Lisa Hamilton, a writer I hope more people will soon be familiar with, has an interesting take on ethanol from the farmer's point of view. "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," she writes on AlterNet.
While the price of corn may be at a glorious four dollars a bushel now, when it evaporates farmers will likely be left to pay for costs that reflect a boom but profits that reflect a bust. Considering that much of the biofuels industry is already calling corn an archaic fuel source, looking forward instead to cellulosic ethanol, this crash is bound to happen within the next few years. ... It's beginning to feel ominously like the lead-up to the farm crisis of the 1980s, when high times led to unsustainable debt. They fear that the near future holds widespread foreclosure, not rural salvation.
What Hamilton proposes is not a boom-and-bust cycle, but a way to ensure farmers get a fair price for their goods. "What farmers need in order to rebuild their communities and secure their farm incomes is not an ethanol boom -- or any kind of boom for that matter. They need a system that offers a fair return for their product all the time, not just during a fuel crisis."