From the Washington Post:
Corn farmer Jim Handsaker has found a slew of ways to ride the heartland boom in biofuels that is reshaping the economy of rural Iowa.
He sold some of his 2006 crop this year for more than $4 a bushel, the highest price in a decade. His stake in two nearby ethanol plants brought in several thousand dollars more in dividends. Meanwhile, soaring farmland prices have pushed the value of the 400 acres he owns to around $2 million.
Even so, come October he will get a subsidy check from the government, part of a $1.6 billion installment that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will send to corn farmers.
Those annual automatic payments to Handsaker and thousands of other prospering corn growers have long been controversial. But coming at a time when taxpayers are already subsidizing the ethanol industry to the tune of $3 billion a year, the double-barreled support system for those who grow corn and those who turn it into fuel has begun to draw fire in Congress.
"Federal farm subsidies are already narrowly focused on certain crops and are excessive," said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), a farmer and former chairman of the Senate agriculture committee. "They become ridiculous given the exploding possibilities to grow crops for biofuels production." ...MORE