By Mike Barnett

Know what’s causing the political crisis in Egypt? It’s ethanol. Hunger is rampant in this Middle East country because U.S. ethanol production has caused world corn prices to go up. Higher corn prices mean U.S. farmers are taking wheat acres out of production in favor of corn. This is causing wheat prices to spike and because the U.S. exports a lot of wheat to the Middle East, the average Egyptian Joe can’t afford to eat. So he and his friends are rioting in the streets.

At least this is what a writer on Forbes website maintains. I wish I could link to the article but it disappeared over the weekend. This convoluted story reminds me of a dog I used to have, named Brainless. We were playing fetch one day when the stick I threw landed in the bed of a passing pickup. I guess Brainless is still chasing that stick. I haven’t seen him since.

That incident was a far fetch for Brainless, just as this opinion piece is a far fetch for author Christian Wolan.

Realizing an opinion is an opinion, it’s still incredible to me that the editors at Forbes ever let this one loose. I wonder if its audacity was the reason it was pulled down.

Ethanol has become a convenient whipping boy for whatever ills the world is suffering.

A couple of years ago it was the grocery wars, where ethanol was blamed for spikes in the price of food in this country and around the world.

Left unmentioned as possible sources of food inflation were increased demand caused by a booming world economy and a sky high price for energy. Guess what? When the U.S. and world economic bubble burst, so did oil and food prices.

Today the world’s economy is heating up and the price of energy is barreling skyward. Corn and wheat, as well as other commodity prices, are rising. So are food prices. Déjà vu all over again.

It’s not the price of tea in China or the cost of bread in Egypt or ethanol production in the U.S. that is causing the people of Cairo to riot.

They are standing up to a corrupt government which has shown little regard for its people. Many Egyptians live in rampant poverty with little hope for the future. They have had enough. They are demanding change. And it looks as if they’re going to be successful.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wolan, if you see my dog, Brainless, give me a call. He’s on endless quest chasing a phantom stick. It looks to me as if you are barking up the same tree.

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Mike Barnett

Director of Publications
Texas Farm Bureau
I’m a firm believer that farmers and ranchers will continue to meet the needs of a growing world population by employing equal measures of common sense, conservation and technology.
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