Well, duh!

Pleas for top-down aid to the world’s hungry, about which I have mixed feelings (Yes, I should like to witness the eradication of poverty and hungry; no, I don’t have any particularly affinity for World Bank, not to mention G8.), notwithstanding, Zoellick’s call for “reform of biofuel policies in rich countries, urging them to grow more food to feed the hungry” warms the cockles of my heart.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit on Hokkaido island, Mr Zoellick said biofuels – transport fuels made from crops – have made a contribution to food price rises. [. . .]

”The US and Europe also need to take action to reduce mandates, subsidies and tariffs benefiting grain and oil seed biofuels that take food off the table for millions,” he said.

That only now has some-one made a fuss of this at such might heights baffles me. Long ago, I, coming from a (formerly) farming family, working in a grocery store at the time, and having many friends who farm, recognized that dedicating our monoculture production more to filling our tanks than our tummies would prove to be disastrous. My friend Eric, a farmer whose family has long benefitted from government intervention in the agri”culture” market, willing concedes that this is bad policy; self-interested, as we all are, he welcomes the increased prices, but he knows that this is bad news. I do, too, and I’m more than happy that my father and grandfather increased their annual rents by some thirty dollars per acre thanks to the ethanol craze. As nice as that is, though, we cannot, as Zoellick acknowledges, continue this asinine policy (or, truth be told, as Wendell Berry has, many times, reminded us, our entire system of monoculture agri-business. This is no place for such digression, though). Perhaps, this time, some-one in power will listen. Beginning to resemble a broken record of some-one as depressing as, say, Joy Division, I again remark that I remain bitterly pessimistic.