This is an exercise in economics and nutrition. A University of Missouri researcher warns of potential damage to part of Missouri agriculture caused by the rush to produce ethanol. Animal scientist Gary Allee says the rush to produce ethanol in Missouri could mean higher pork and poultry prices—and even jeopardize some producers. He calls it a national conflict between energy policy and food policy. Differing estimates say it takes 28 to 36 million bushels of corn to make 100 million gallons of ethanol. Present or planned Missouri ethanol plants are designed to produce more than 450 million gallons a year, consuming 128 to 164 million bushels of corn a year. That’s about half of Missouri’s 300-million bushel corn crop. Allee thinks corn price increases will make corn unaffordable for some pork producers… He says Missourians need to realistically understand the tradoff that is being made–that the prime source of livestock feed is being diverted to energy production. He says that will have a detrimental effect on food prices. Allee says this is not an issue for the distant future. He says some areas where two or more ethanol plants are operating or being built could move quickly from corn surplus areas to corn deficits..
Missouri’s newest ethanol plant will be next to a corn mill adjacent to the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority in Scott City. SEMO Milling says the plant will produce 100-million gallons of ethanol a year. Backers hope the plant can be producing late next year with 30 to 40 employees. Missouri has three ethanol plants now and a fourth coming on line this fall. Combined, they will produce 156-million gallons. Two other plants have been proposed for southeast Missouri, in addition to the one at the port authority. Developers of those two say they also will produce 100-million gallons a year. It takes 36-million bushels of corn to make 100-million gallons of ethanol.
The breeziest part of Missouri is attracting more interest for companies wanting to set up wind farms. Two more companies are leasing land in northwest missouri’s Atchison County, which is considered part of Missouri where the wind speeds are consistently high enough to turn the big blades of a generating windmill. Earlier this year, Wind Capital Group, a Missouri company, announced plans to build two of those farms. Ground has been broken for the first. A Kansas company, TradeWind Energy. has leases on 20-thousand acres. Community Wind Energy, from Pennsylvania, says it also wants to move into the area. Energy policy analyst Rick Anderson with the Department of Natural Resources says it’s a capital-intensive business…and investors should not expect to get rich fast. He says wind farms are capital-intensive operations up front. Landowners leasing property could earn several thousand dolalrs a year per turbine. But that will depend on the amount of electricity each turbine generates. The Missouri group, Wind Capital, has a buyer for the power it will generate. The other two are still looking for buyers of their power. A spokesman for one of them says that’s the biggest challenge facing wind farm entrepreneurs.