While the U.S. Congress is trying to balance the budget with cuts to programs subsidizing bio-based fuels and infrastructure, G20 agricultural ministers meeting in Paris to address a continuing global food supply crisis issued a declaration that failed to reach an accord on whether or how to cut or end biofuel subsidies. The ministers have agreed to “continue to address the challenges and opportunities posed by biofuels.” International agencies contend that precipitous rises in the price for basic food commodities over the past four years have been driven by the diversion of food crops to fuel production.
According to a news source, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack expected to defend the country’s biofuel policy in G20 meetings, noting that the United States is moving toward fuels that do not rely on food crops, but are instead made with corn stover and switchgrass. Still, 37 percent of the U.S. corn crop went to ethanol in 2010, and that percentage will not decrease in 2011. Vilsack also apparently believes that the congressional biofuels debate is not over due to the administration’s strong financial support for projects developing next-generation fuels. See Des Moines Register, June 20, 2011; Reuters and The New York Times, June 23, 2011.