Thursday, February 08, 2007

More Energy Agriculture (Kind Of)

Over at Antitrust and Competition Policy Blog, an interesting post reports that congressional attention is focusing on the food and supermarket industry. (Hat tip to Mr. Sokol for the heads up).

I think over the next few years we will see more and more of this sort of inquiry. Energy policy is already driving commodity prices and that will likely translate into higher prices at the supermarket. Thus, there should be some additional political pressure to ferret out anything that also may be contributing to higher food prices.

On a broader scale, the onslaught of energy agriculture, displacing part of the food supply, and the accompanying price spike are intriguing. On a policy level, if farmers are producing energy rather than food, do we see them differently? More importantly, does the urban voter see them differently? Will the family still be a prominent part of the energy farming ideal? Will increased food prices, in conjunction with fairly high fuel prices, erode the political goodwill that the farming industry enjoys? Environmentally, can we handle the pressure of increased production? And do the environmental production costs outweigh the benefits of using less oil?