(p. 19) That the United States is using corn, among the more expensive crops to grow and harvest, to help meet the country’s fuel needs is a testament to the politics underlying ethanol’s 30-year rise to prominence. Brazilian farmers produce ethanol from sugar at a cost roughly 30 percent less.
But in America’s farm belt, politicians have backed the ethanol movement as a way to promote the use of corn, the nation’s most plentiful and heavily subsidized crop. Those generous government subsidies have kept corn prices artificially low — at about $2 a bushel — and encouraged flat-out production by farmers, leading to large surpluses symbolized by golden corn piles towering next to grain silos in Iowa and Illinois.
For the full story, see:
ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO. "THE ENERGY CHALLENGE: A Modern Gold Rush; For Good or Ill, Boom in Ethanol Reshapes Economy of Heartland." The New York Times, Section 1 (Sunday, June 25, 2006): 1 & 19.