|Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report|
Ted H. Smith writes for Red Dirt Report
By Ted H. Smith
Red Dirt Report, contributing writer
Posted: July 24, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. -- As I was flipping channels last week, I stopped on the agricultural channel just to see what was going on with farm prices. The agricultural farm program bill had been signed into law about two weeks ago and I thought there might be something interesting on that channel.
Well, there was, but not what I expected.
An official with USDA was being interviewed about the corn crop for this year and the amount of carry-over from last year. I was brought up short when he said that the corn crop this year would be the worst since 1987. But, he said the big difference between now and 1987 was that in 1987 we had a one year supply of corn as carry over and this year we have three weeks carry-over, or effectively, no carry-over.
For this country to have no carry-over in its corn crop in the middle of one of the worst drought in thirty years is alarming. I wonder what the big difference was in now and 1987. The answer of course is ethanol. We use a perfectly good food source to make ethanol which will run our cars, but which we cannot eat.
There may be as much as fifty percent of our corn crop that goes to make bio-fuel.. This may be a very good program. It may be when you have excess corn. But it can’t be a good program when you have next to no corn. Yet I have seen no information where the government is stopping corn being used as a bio-fuel source. So we go blithely on our way, in the middle of a severe drought , making bio-fuel out of corn when we are awash in natural gas. So the next program the government may come up with is to make synthetic food stuff out of natural gas. This will be much more expensive than regular corn, very inefficient, taste bad, and cause health problems. Seems like some of the same problems the bio-fuel program has.
And since we are talking about the drought, it might be interesting to look at another subject that I find hard to explain. We experience droughts in the Midwest about every 25 to 30 years. We had them in 1933, 1957, 1987 and in 2011.
If you go back further, you will find that the pattern is about the same. It is also very interesting that the Midwest has been overly wet the last 15 years. I suppose that most people think the last five years is the way things always were and the way they will always be, but that is not the case. Long-run cycles are very real. They are just longer than most people’s memory. So if you are involved in government in Oklahoma, and you know that about every 25 to 30 years there will be a severe drought, you might think that it would be a good idea if we could recycle water.
But, in Oklahoma, it is against state law to recycle treated wastewater back into the water system. Here in Norman, for instane, the city sends about 12 million gallons a day down the South Canadian River. If the lakes and wells go dry wouldn’t it be nice it be able to recycle at least half of that?
Yesterday, I learned that Clinton, Oklahoma is about to run out of water. They will be in the position of hauling in water, and sending their treated waste water down the river. Isn’t it time that the legislature started taking water recycling seriously and isn’t it time that we stopped using food stuffs for fuel when we are awash with natural gas.
Ted H. Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and is a regular contributor to Red Dirt Report.
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