I realized last year that it wasn't economically feasible for me to keep turkeys or pigs over the winter (to make more for next year's crop). When I purchased this year's pigs, I let a couple of people who have gotten pigs or turkeys from me before, and sold 1 1/2. I estimated, when I talked to them, what the final price would be.
Here's my rant: The price of pig feed has gone from $10/50 lbs. to $12/50 lbs. That's a 20% increase. That's really, really hard for a small operator like me to absorb. I now have the unenviable task of letting my customers know that their pigs will cost more, and refund their deposit if they decide to back out. This is also going to affect the cost of raising the turkeys, which arrive May 5 (Ole'!).
The driving force behind the price increase? The price of corn. Now that everyone wants to be so eco-conscious, and use ethanol-enhanced (diluted) fuel, the cost of corn has skyrocketed. The fact that to produce ethanol uses more energy that the ultimate product will ever produce is immaterial.
I have, for many years, followed the writings of Gene Logsden. He has a blog, The Contrary Farmer. The current post is on just this topic, and has many more facts, etc. than I have time to look up (I'm concerned with my bottom line - those figures are harsh enough!). I believe, however, that the 1/2 gallon of oil per bushel of corn should be 1/2 barrel. Given the number of acres of corn planted in our country, and the equipment needed to seed, fertilize, harvest, ship, not to mention the oil that goes into the fertilizers and pesticides, 1/2 gallon doesn't seem to cover it.
If your power lawn mower, chainsaw, weedeater, etc. have needed to have their engines rebuilt (or you threw them away because it was too expensive to fix them), thank ethanol. Because ethanol is an alcohol, it dries out rubber (gaskets, etc.) causing them not to work. There's a reason you can find non-ethanol gas again - it's also bad for motorcycles and cars. What I find interesting is that it costs more to get gas without the dilution, than with it. Think about this, the next time you fill your gas tank.
I'm a late 50-something person with widely divergent musical taste, hobbies including fiber arts, dressage and reading, who is in transition between a farm and future retirement - still have chickens and ducks and one horse.