Today’s Editorial February 08: Price increase isn’t chicken scratch

Sometimes you just have to be careful what you pray for.

We’ve all moaned and groaned as we’ve wheeled our way to the petroleum tank to fill up our gas loving SUVs and pickup trucks.

We’ve begged for lower gasoline prices and have shaken our fists at our own government and that in the US when gas prices didn’t fall as far or as soon as we liked.

And we haven’t been alone in the mantra.

Somebody’s been listening; our neighbours to the north.

The politicians there want American citizens less dependent on foreign oil and their wish trickles down even to little ole us.

So they’ve come up with a plan to encourage the production of more ethanol to reduce that country’s reliance on foreign oil.

Sounds good on the surface, but in reality the plan could have drastic negative implications for citizens in the United States and here.

The plan to increase ethanol production is certainly going to hit you in the pocketbook, but not in the good way the good ole boys in Washington, D.C., USA envision.

Ethanol, thanks to the subsidies and mandates from Congress, has driven up the price of corn to 10-year highs. This is increasing the costs to feedlot owners who feed corn to cattle, pigs and chickens, forcing the costs of these food stocks to increase.

Bought a dozen eggs at your favourite supermarket lately? Did you notice the price?

We did.

Less than two months ago a dozen medium eggs was $1.07 at Foster’s Food Fair. A dozen of the same size cost you $2.19 30 January.

That’s more than double in about six weeks.

The price went up because the best feed to keep laying hens going is corn, and the cost of corn has gone up.

But it’s not just eggs and chickens, which will also cost more at the meat counter.

Corn, or a by-product from it, is used in just about every humanly processed food imaginable from canned sodas to canned beats, corn chips and salad dressing.

So while more than $2 for a dozen eggs may not seem like much, compound that with the increase in all foodstuffs that contain corn and you could see your grocery bills soar.

We think the US government needs to stop mandating ethanol production until it can find a cheaper way to do it. There are lots of high-sugar plants and weed in the US – kudzu, which has taken over whole towns in Florida, comes to mind – that can be used to make ethanol.

Frankly, the whole programme needs to be re-examined, from how it’s going to be made to how it’s going to be transported and used.

Ethanol is not a panacea to the burgeoning world fuel problem.

If this keeps up, we’ll be able to afford to drive to the market, but we won’t have the money to make our groceries.

Brace yourself. The cost of living in the Cayman Islands is just about to get even higher.