a while back I posted a link to an article in the NYT about Farm subsidies and their effect on the production of food in this country. The important points, for this post, are:
1) Before the mid-1930's, farm economics meant that, for farmers, if the price of corn went down, they would grow more instead of less in order to individually be able to make as much money as they would have at the original price/quantity. As this excess quantity was difficult to transport or sell in its normal form, it was converted to whiskey, and after a while we had, I would say, a serious alcohol problem here.
2) Between the mid-30's and 1972, farm production was kept at a lower level through a system of farm loans and a government operated "ever normal granary"
3) After 1972, due to food riots, the Nixon administration ended the ever normal granary, and instituted straight farm subsidies. Since then, food production has increased just as it did in the past, but now instead of whiskey it the excess is largely converted into things like high-fructose corn syrup. We produce 500 calories more per person per day, and we consume 300 of them ourselves.
I bring this up again because, if this is really the way farm economics is going to work for us, there is someplace else for this excess corn to go: ethanol. We're already growing too much, and farmers are just going to grow as much as they can at whatever price, unless it goes to 0. If what they're turning it into isn't helping (as I drink my third Vernors of the day), then maybe it can/will eventually be used for something arguably much more useful. Maybe this is old news, or uninteresting, but it would be interesting to me to see us go to a third age of corn, from liquor to sugar to fuel.