Re: Ethanol-free fuel
Yup, corn farmers around here are now plowing fence row to fence row, and in many cases taking out fences and brush to create massive monoculture fields. This results in habitat fragmentation, and makes it much easier for predators such as fox, raccoon and coyotes to find upland-nesting birds (including pheasants and ducks, among many others). Hunters and Ducks Unlimited should be fully up in arms over ethanol. But they have to walk a fine line with the primary landowners, who are farmers.
You can see increased erosion around here, too, as farmers have broken ground on steep hillsides that should never be broken. Drive by after a good rain and you can see the mud trails leaving the fields and going into the ditches.
I have two brothers who still farm. They are small-time, though, and they believe in leaving some habitat for wildlife. They leave steep hills for pasture and run livestock on them, and don't over-rated them.
Too many farms have become large corporate operations. Kids don't want to take over the family farm, so the farm gets sold to the nearest corporate neighbor. Sad times indeed.