I’ve always heard many opinions on the production of ethanol from corn, but I never really bothered to look into the facts until this assignment came up. After some research I learned that the production of this fuel has many negative effects; a couple of which being a rise in food prices and the forced modernization upon smaller farms.
The rise in food prices is clearly explained in this article (on pages 16-18; according to the page numbers of the pdf file, not the numbers written directly on the article). Inflation in food prices is a result of more and more farms being forced to grow strictly corn to keep up with growing demands, in turn creating fewer and fewer farms growing other crops. This not only raises the prices of other crops, but also raises the price of meat. This is because the cost of corn itself has raised, causing the feeding of cattle to become more expensive. The rising price of corn directly relates to my next point: the modernization of farms and it’s tie to industrialization.
Rural farms are forced to try to adapt to the modernization of crop production. Farmers are expected to invest in new technologies that would allow the production of more corn which are new expenses that they were not prepared for and which they have to make up for through the selling prices of their crops. The rising price of fuel also contributes to higher costs for the farmers to do their job. However, farmers being forced into modernization doesn’t only affect the prices of food; it greatly affects smaller rural farms that are unable to meet the requirements and needs for such large productions of corn. A recent article by dakota fire, a journalism company based around North and South Dakota, explains the consequences behind losing “mid-sized farms”. Smaller farms are in a way “forced out of agriculture” because they are unable to keep up which the demands, in turn ruining rural communities that rely heavily upon farms to keep them structured. Rural farms and the communities within them are being forced to go through their own stage of industrialization by involuntarily changing their methods of work to keep up with current day demands.
These mandatory changes to farms are important because by feeding into demands and modernizing, we are facing many underlying consequences that are starting to become apparent; just like the many consequences we faced during the industrial revolution (ie: poor work conditions, low wages, etc). Sure, this modernization of farms might have some benefits (easier and faster production), but we need to keep the damaging consequences in clear sight.