Letter: Don’t blame ethanol

To the editor:

Kansas University biologist Chip Taylor has brought ethanol to the top of his list of enemies to monarch butterflies in an article published on March 31. Over the years, Taylor has blamed global warming, drought and improved weed control for declining monarch populations. Now, he claims ethanol production is forcing wild prairie into crop production, destroying butterfly habitat. That is simply not true.

The ethanol industry continues to produce at consistent levels in 2014, yet last week’s USDA 2014 prospective plantings report showed a decrease of 3.7 million acres of corn to be planted in the U.S.

Many factors influence a farmer’s planting decisions, including market prices and weather.  In Kansas, we farm about 20 million acres of land producing mostly corn, wheat, soybeans and sorghum. Acreages shift between crops, but the amount of Kansas farmland remains consistent. 

Farmers should be recognized for the substantial amount of natural habitat on their farms. Instead of blaming ethanol and agriculture for loss of habitat for monarch butterflies, perhaps the loss of farmland and natural habitat to urban growth should be a greater concern.

Agriculture continues to produce more feed, food and energy from a stable or declining number of acres to meet the needs of a growing population. Ethanol has been blamed for causing many issues depending on the philosophy of a respective author – and the facts continue to disprove the basis of such attacks. That is true here as well.  I wonder where next year’s blame will be placed.