In The Line Of Fire

February 20, 2008

It has been said that this is a "golden age" for agriculture. I won't disagree. Wheat prices are out of sight. Corn price is double what it has been in recent years. Milk price is double. All my years in this business, I have heard that farm programs inflate land prices. They probably did but not anymore. The market is driving land values up. Can this"golden age" endure? We shall see.

You know how it works.Whoever is on top, they're the target. "Bring them down." Well, we are on top. Agriculture, rural America. We are riding a new wave of prosperity. And predictably, we are the target. We are in the crosshairs.

There are two new studies out getting a lot of coverage that say we've been wrong all along -- biofuels actually will increase CO2 levels. In fact, biofuels will double the output of greenhouse gases.

I'm not going to get into the details of this argument except to say they don't have a perfect case. It's full of holes. The reality is that people of the world are going to demand more energy. Biofuels is not the only answer, but it certainly is one of the answers.

Biofuels are not alone under attack. Meat producers also are in the crosshairs. Developing nations have a growing middle class, and, surprise, they want meat. They want a pork chop with their rice. Some chicken with their bread.Global meat consumption is expected to double by 2050.

But the critics are wringing their hands, worrying how we can raise the feed to feed the pigs and chickens and beef. Global acreage of arable land is limited.They want to put the brakes on meat consumption. They broadcast that livestock production generates 1/5 of the world's greenhouse gases.Our processing plants consume huge amounts of energy, and pollute our water supply.

Their solution -- we need to become vegetarians.

Well, it's not going to happen. The people of the world that can afford meat will demand meat. And the industrial development of the world demands more energy and biofuels is part of that equation.

Our critics may be vocal, they may be unhappy, they may be desperate. I say, "get over it." You're not going to win.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.