On the heels of the federal government announcing food prices will rise because of the drought, what can be done to help? An Illinois congresswoman has some ideas. U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) says she has been keeping tabs on the drought plaguing Illinois and the Midwest. As livestock groups take aim at the EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standards, hoping that the mandate that requires ethanol be blended into gasoline can be suspended for a year to help keep feed prices down, Biggert says it’s time to end ethanol subsidies altogether.
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“I think that we shouldn’t have this. I think that we should do away with the subsidy because I think ethanol has had the ability now to be working for so long, then why are we still subsidizing that when we don’t have the money for so many things?” Biggert said. With corn prices already high, farmers are afraid that prices will inch higher as available corn is taken off the market and turned into ethanol. That would mean higher feed prices for farmers raising everything from chickens to beef. While it’s unlikely the price of cornflakes will rise that much, meat, egg and dairy prices will rise.
With rising food prices, there could be help to families living in poverty by raising the amount of families receive under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), but Biggert doesn’t see that happening anytime soon. “The food prices are going to go up and I think that food stamps are very important; I don’t think we’re going to get a farm bill out” soon, Biggert said.
Some members of Congress are considering a one-year extension of the existing farm program, but Biggert says she would like to see something more substantial. She does think a farm bill will come up eventually, but says at the moment it’s indefinitely delayed.