Effects of the Barky-supported ethanol industry are now being felt across the country. Minnesota's 10,000 lakes and vast aquifers are being unsustainably drained, in part due to increased irrigation by farmers growing feed, much of which is diverted to ethanol production. Feed prices are rising, ranchers have cut herds, and so feedlots and meat-packing plants are shutting down from Texas to Nebraska.
Aside from rising prices at the grocery checkout, the ancillary economic impacts are sobering; some areas in Minnesota have been forced to decline opportunities to host businesses - though their jobs are needed - due to inability to supply sufficient water to meet their needs. Other areas are considering methods for allocating water, which is unprecedented in the land of ten thousand lakes.
And while feedlots themselves employ relatively few workers, they supply the meatpacking plants, which employ thousands.
Cargill Beef, one of the nation's biggest meatpackers, temporarily closed a slaughterhouse in Plainview, Texas, earlier this year, laying off 2,000 workers.
If the trends continue, such closures may not be temporary; unemployment numbers may well rise along with prices for meats and dairy products. While the recent droughts across the midwest have played a large role, the Barky administration has nonetheless refused to relax its insistence upon increasing ethanol content in fuels; further straining food supplies. Recovery, if it comes at all, will be slow:
When corn prices first spiked to $8 a bushel nearly four years ago, about 70 big feed yards went up for sale in the High Plains feeding area that includes Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, Bretz said. Today, there are 10 and 15 feed yards for sale in the region, mostly in Texas. Bretz said he knows of 15 more that are empty, three recently dismantled and two others now being torn down.
In Minnesota, where a combination of factors including increasing population and the doubling of irrigation are reducing water supplies faster than rain and snowfall can replenish them, redirecting runoff and enhanced wastewater treatment options may become necessary in order to revive depleting aquifers, in addition to stricter water allocation rules. Reducing or eliminating ethanol requirements would naturally result in an easing of the impact upon food and water supplies, but the Barky administration has no interest in moving back from conversion of food to fuel; quite the opposite - they're pushing to expand the program.
And while developments such as production of cellulosic ethanol from waste wood and other byproducts are in the pipeline, output from the projects is not. The Barky EPA, having just lost a legal battle over their efforts to sue refiners for millions of dollars over their failure to incorporate cellulosic ethanol into their fuel blends as the bureaucrats had demanded, has nonetheless just increased their mandate to the refiners - despite court findings that cellulosic biofuel is presently nonexistent.
EPA may as well be demanding that refineries incorporate methane from unicorn farts into fuel blends.