Corn is the nation's largest agricultural crop and is used for animal feed, food supplies for humans, and other food byproducts. Ethanol production in 2001 was seven percent of the total U.S. crop. Today it is rapidly increasing as 114 ethanol bio-refineries have sprung up throughout the Midwest. The GAO estimates that ethanol will consume nearly 1/3rd of the corn crop in 2012.
The price of corn has risen due to this new demand for corn products. Ethanol has some environmental challenges ahead because it produces twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the gasoline it replaces. Ethanol plants also consume large volumes of water which is precious in Colorado.
Recently, former Vice President Al Gore publicly stated
that his earlier support of corn ethanol subsidies was a mistake.