Despite economic chaos in export competitor Argentina, a weaker, more trade-friendly dollar and robust global demand for oilseed, grain and soybean prices continue to struggle.
The fact is the world market for food is being fed pretty well from myriad sources. That circumstance means American farmers will continue to depend on export markets and government payments. Currently in some farm states like Iowa, federal payments comprise half the net farm income.
Developing a better domestic market for grain and oilseed would seem to be in the interest of farmers, rural communities and the national treasury. Some of that development may well occur under energy legislation.
In more than five weeks of debate, the Democratic-led Senate has crafted an energy bill that includes everything from oil exploration … to wind … solar … and ethanol.
The bill would:
-- Triple the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline to five (B) billion gallons by 2012.
-- Increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable energy sources like the wind and sun from the current two percent to ten percent by 2020.
--And provide $14 (B) billion dollars in energy tax credits and incentives to help keep small oil and natural gas wells profitable when energy prices are low. The money would also provide rebates to consumers buying vehicles that run on alternative-fuels.
However, the bill falls short of what the Bush Administration wanted: to tap the oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
U.S. gasoline consumption is expected to be at 9.6 (M) barrels a day by 2015… a 23% increase from current levels.
With the bill's passage, negotiators will begin to work out differences with the energy legislation passed last year by the House. Unlike the Senate version, the House version did allow for the drilling of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.