Wednesday, April 30, 2008
What’s happening to food and how has law contributed to the shock? The Washington Post printed a readable primer on the complex topic this week; the report today concerns the massive increase in corn farming over the past few years, spurred in part by laws requiring the use of ethanol. These changes are having a profound effect on the grain belt. Acreage devoted to corn in Iowa, the biggest corn state, rose by more than a third over the past 20 years; in Kansas, traditionally a wheat state, corn acreage more than doubled over that time. Yesterday, the Post reported on the fall in wheat production, which raises the price of bread.
Meanwhile, Congress continues to debate an enormous farm bill, which will shape farm and rural land use for years to come. While high farm prices haven’t discouraged Congress from continuing a host of farm payment programs, there is an effort afoot to shift some of the payments away from farmers and toward consumers.