A corn farmers' group said Tuesday the United States needs to shift its reliance to fuels such as ethanol as a way of improving its energy security.
Such security becomes important in light of the desire of some federal officials to go to war with Iraq, which would inevitably reduce the U.S. access to oil supplies from the Middle East.
The National Corn Growers Association said improved energy security needs to be a national priority these days,
The association notes reports hinting at an attack on Iraq as part of a national strategy to fight against terrorism have caused crude oil prices to boost to $25.91 per barrel.
"A renewable fuels standard could displace 1.6 billion gallons of imported oil over the next decade and cut U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources, which account for nearly 60 percent of our nation's fuel supply," the association said, in a prepared statement.
The corn growers' group supports versions of a federal energy policy pending in Congress that include increased renewable fuel standards.
Some of those proposals would force officials to triple their use of ethanol, a fuel made from corn byproducts, by 2012.
But lawmakers have been unable to reach a consensus on what should be in the final bill.
Association lobbyist Jon Doggett said he hopes Congress approves a new federal energy policy when they return to Washington next month for their final days of action before the newly elected Congress takes over in January.
"The lame duck session is our last chance for getting a (renewable fuels standard) this year," Doggett said. "Increased usage of ethanol and other renewable fuels will decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil."
The association also noted current gasoline supplies are at low levels, which is causing fear among some motorists because it comes at a time when Iraqi oil reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia among the supply known to exist.
"The U.S. sends Iraq an average of $12 million per day for oil," Doggett said. "It is significant to know we can drastically cut that number with readily accessible ethanol."
Sheep farmers in Ohio are suffering from their highest number of confirmed cases of scrapie.
The Agriculture Department reported that Ohio had 38 confirmed cases of the disease between Oct. 1, 2001, and July 31, 2002, with the infected sheep confined to 13 flocks.
That is out of 142,000 head of sheep across the state.
Ohio State University researchers are trying to develop a test to detect scrapie and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including mad cow disease in cattle, chronic wasting disease in elk and deer, all using scrapie as a model.
American Sugar Alliance officials are upset with Brazil for criticizing the U.S. for programs related to ethanol, sugar and other agricultural products.
Alliance Chairman James Johnson Jr. noted Brazil has provided huge subsidies to promote ethanol production. Other subsidies, including those for sugar, have disrupted many of the world's commodity markets.
"It is ironic that Brazil would complain about limits on its access to the U.S. market for ethanol and sugar when Brazil has been subsidizing these products for years," Johnson said.
Officials in British Columbia are proposing new laws to make forest practices more efficient and effective while maintaining environmental standards.
The officials have come up with a new forest practices code meant to shift from government micro-management to a better system of forest management.
Government officials will determine the specific standards and rules that forest companies will have to meet to conserve biodiversity, old growth, wildlife habitat and other values.
Grain futures were mixed at the close Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Soybeans rose on strong demand for the U.S.-grown crop. Weather conditions in northern Brazil that hurt that country's crop benefited the U.S. crop.
Corn fell on influence from wheat, which suffered from favorable winter wheat conditions and a lack of any new information that would have inspired prices to rise.
Oats were mixed.
Soybeans: Nov 5.78 1/4 up 3, Jan 5.72 3/4 unch, Mar 5.67 1/4 up 1/2, May 5.60 1/2 up 2 1/4.
Corn: Dec 2.42 off 2 1/4, Mar 2.46 off 2 1/4, May 2.49 1/4 off 2 1/4, Jul 2.51 1/4 off 2.
Wheat: Dec 4.00 3/4 off 7 1/2, Mar 4.01 off 6 1/2, May 3.67 1/2 off 3 1/2, Jul 3.29 off 1 1/4.
Oats: Dec 2.05 up 1/4, Mar 1.99 unch, May 1.91 up 1/4, Jul 1.77 off 1.