Since the farmers have met somewhat of an impasse in their efforts to lobby for direct government support, there may well be another gentler, more self-helpful form of relief in lobbying to restructure the alcohol tax, encouraging farm production of alcohol for motor fuel.
A recent interview published in Mother Earth News tells or research on alcohol production on the family farm. Dr. Lance Crombie of Webster, Minn., has recently applied for, and received, a permit to experimentally distill alcohol from spoiled grain, etc., with a solar still.
Dr. Crombie shows that a bushel of corn costing about $2 will yield $2 worth of distillery byproduct feed, in addition to producing about five gallons of alcohol, which could be sold for 50 cents a gallon. The feed is more nutritious than the corn by virtue of the yeast growth, with only the less desirable carbohydrate being removed. He also points out that although the government makes $2 billion on liquor taxes, it spends 11 times as much on the very subsidies the farmers want more of. By allowing use of solar stills on the family farm, the government would permit the alcohol produced to foster domestic self-sufficiency and alleviate the problem of farm surpluses. By converting food staples like sugar-beets and grains to energy sources, it would ensure that they could not go below a certain price. Alcohol production by solar distillation, while uniquely suited to farms, is not something that large businesses could do economically. This would create an energy source for the farmstead, in addition to ensuring that individual farmers would have a more direct influence on the U.S. economy by marketing alcohol additional to their needs. This would provide competition for more traditional semi-monopoly energy sources.
It behooves the farmers to explore this avenue of survival. This seems more becoming for a group of rugged individualists than petitioning Congress for more controls of an already overcontrolled system. Any novel, creative solution that puts maximum involvement and control in the hands of the farmer should be attempted.