The United States needs energy solutions that don’t rely on corn and don’t drive consumer food prices higher, according to a letter to the editor submitted by American Meat Institute (AMI) President J. Patrick Boyle.

Boyle’s recent letter in the Chicago Tribune was in response to a March 26 opinion piece from former Agriculture Secretary John Block suggesting that rising food prices can’t be blamed on ethanol.

Boyle pointed out that due to increased demand from ethanol plants, corn supplies are at their lowest levels in 15 years, sending corn prices soaring, putting tremendous pressure on farmers, ranchers and processors who depend on corn as a major source for food-producing animals.

“When corn prices soar, herd sizes are reduced and meat supplies shrink. As the supply shrinks, the price rises at the local grocery store. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ February Consumer Price Index, retail meat prices rose 9.2% during the past year,” Boyle wrote.

The AMI leader also highlighted the fact that because of a federal mandate and subsidies, four out of every 10 rows of corn grown in the United States are used to produce fuel for cars or trucks, not food or feed.

“It is certainly true that food prices are nudged upwards by some factors beyond our control. But burning our food and feed in our gas tanks is something we can, and should control,” Boyle concluded. “We must develop energy solutions that are not based on major food and feed crops, like corn. In this way, we can fuel our vehicles – and our people – at prices they can afford.”