Guebert: A podcast that can save ag | Chroniclers


It is an increasingly uncomfortable fact for journalists like me that 67% of American media consumers today do not have paid subscriptions to anything.

Even more striking, 87% of the baby boomer generation – we have gray hair and paid subscriptions – use free electronic media like Facebook, Twitter, and podcasts every day. Only Gen Z, 18 to 25 year olds who actually remember their website passwords, use social media more.


That describes me as a T: I have a dozen paid print subscriptions and two dozen free electronic podcast subscriptions on everything from “The Lutheran Hour” (which, oddly to discerning Lutherans, is just ‘half an hour) at the BBC “Farmarama.

Best of my current listening, however, is an agricultural podcast titled “Corn Saves America”, a factual and compelling dive into the potential, profitability and likelihood of ag-aligned carbon markets through what its author and host, Sarah Mock, explains, “the corn ethanol lens”.

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The series – there are nine episodes varying in length between 40 and 60 minutes each – is an audio story of what we’ve learned in the rocky 40-year marriage of general environmental goals like clean air to needs. much narrower agricultural markets as value-added markets and higher incomes.

These lessons serve as a benchmark against which to measure the next big environmental policy push, carbon sequestration. Mock, and the group’s full-time sponsors and part-time contributors, Brent Gloy and David Widmar of Agricultural Economic Insights, or aei, are lucid in their reporting and unbiased in their analysis of the slow start of ethanol over the years. 1990, its gold rush in the 2000s, and now, its likely peak.

But the series is not the fuzzy ‘we persevered’ success story offered by farm group officials, ethanol executives and commodity association lobbyists who have so often mixed up thin facts. with thick fiction that few policymakers now know what the role of government might be in the rush to sequester carbon.

This is not the case for Mock and the aei crew; they highlight several well-connected contributors who have played an essential role in the rapid growth of ethanol. Many tell compelling stories of political intrigue, geopolitical shifts, and rapid market developments that often had nothing to do with farmers, farm groups, or farm politicians, but everything to do with fuel supply. millions of American cars. It’s a side of the story of the origin of ethanol that few have ever heard.

More importantly, these experiences of building, expanding, and then straddling the biofuels boom give them unique insight into what to expect when – or even if – farmers ever partner with carbon emitters. They have a lot of questions.

For example, should a sequestration program be voluntary, as most farmer groups suggest. If so, who sets its rules for fairness, accuracy, and even if it works – the US Department of Agriculture, private companies, farm groups, a new government agency?

Even before that, however, “… while everyone is trying to figure out how to sequester carbon,” say Mock and EIA economists, many interested players “are still trying to figure out what all this means for fuel prices. commodities, land values ​​and farming in general ”given today’s“ financial, political and climatic uncertainties ”.

Again, although no one knows, ethanol may provide insight. When the Bush administration set biofuels on fire with the renewable fuel standards of 2005 and 2007, it brought in the government’s biggest torches: mandatory blending levels, import tariffs to block cheaper imports, and reliefs. generous taxes to encourage investment and use.

But no one in the federal government or the private sector today is calling for that level of heat in a carbon sequestration program. Why, Mock asks the experts, when everyone knows that we do not have 40 years like ethanol to design, finance and implement a carbon sequestration plan.

I can’t say, because I’m only five episodes away from the very researched and well-written “Corn Saves America” ​​which is delivered to me for free. What a delicious and disturbing treat.

The Farm and Food File is published weekly in the United States and Canada. Past columns, events and contact information are published on


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