By Lisa M. Hamilton, AlterNet. Posted May 25, 2007.
From the news these days you'd think farmers have never had a better friend than ethanol. Headlines holler that corn prices are soaring and that at this moment farmers are planting more acres of corn than they have in the last 50 years. Reporters writing about the ethanol boom are throwing around words like gold rush, jackpot, and nirvana. But if you actually are a farmer, ethanol and the high corn prices it brings is looking less and less like a blessing -- and more like a curse.
In concept, corn ethanol could benefit American farmers. Anytime we as a country look to them to supply our daily needs, it's an opportunity for rural communities to win. The problem is that the boom is taking place in the same old agricultural economy, which works to the benefit of those on top: landlords, processors, and companies selling inputs like seeds and fertilizers. It's agribusiness as usual, and like always, farmers will finish last.