Ethanol Follies in Upstate New York

One hundred years ago, things were busy in upstate New York. Although the railway was the main means of transport, the Erie canal was still a cheap, energy efficient way of moving goods, as this picture taken in Medina NY in 1906 shows. Fisher Price made toys here; Heinz processed vegetables, all using the transportation network to move goods to the Northeast market. Things have changed- the industry is gone, the farms are fallow.
Now, on the site of an old cabbage farm 9 miles from Medina, New York Energy is building an 87 million dollar ethanol plant to turn 20 million bushels of corn into 50 million gallons of fuel. The Project manager notes that most plants are in the Midwest where the corn is, but this plant was being built here because of its proximity to the huge customer base in the Northeast. Only one small problem: they will be shipping in the corn because there is not enough grown locally, athough ""With a demand of more than 20 million bushels per year, we'll spur even more production," he said. "We're confident we'll buy as much of our corn as possible from farmers right here in New York State." So now we are using fuel to ship corn across America to make fuel. ::New York Times

Its time to get back to planting those cabbages in upper New York State and to get HJ Heinz back processing tomatoes and use that railway and Erie Canal to bring local food to that enormous Northeast Market, instead of shipping corn. That is where the future is.