published Friday, June 17th, 2011

Food costs likely to stay high

Many Americans are already suffering from a serious case of “sticker shock” when they pay their grocery bills. But it’s apparently about to get worse.

This year’s wet spring has cut into the corn crop, sharply reducing the amount of surplus corn our nation is expected to have on hand in coming months. By itself, that is sufficient to boost food prices.

But what will make the problem even worse is that vast quantities of corn are devoted each year to manufacturing taxpayer-subsidized ethanol. Corn used in ethanol is diverted out of our food supply, which increases the price of the corn that remains for use as food.

This year, food prices are expected to jump 3 percent to 4 percent, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that prices will remain high throughout 2012 as well.

Taking into account ethanol’s other harmful effects — such as worse gas mileage and damage to small engines — Congress is right to be considering, at long last, cutting off the unconstitutional subsidies that prop up ethanol.

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