Extra Corn Drives Up Prices for Food, Drinks

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - With a new push to find alternatives to imported oil, ethanol has brought on a corn boom and is changing the face of agribusiness. Exports and livestock have long been the top markets for corn, but ethanol's emergence has helped push prices closer to the record price of five dollars-50 cents a bushel, set just over ten years ago.

Kentucky and Indiana farmers are planting more corn to feed the demand for ethanol, but consumers are feeling the pinch as it helps drive up prices for beef, chicken and even soft drinks. Ethanol is grain alcohol that can be mixed with gasoline in concentrations of up to ten percent in all cars and up to 85 percent in specially equipped "flexible fuel" autos.

U-K Agricultural Economist Steve Riggins says if ethanol continues taking a bigger share of the corn harvest, people will be screaming about the price of food.

The rising price of corn has helped push the average price of a two-liter bottle of cola up more than six percent. Corn is a major ingredient of cattle feed and the higher price has contributed to a three percent increase in the price of ground chuck.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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