Ethanol is under fire once again. The “food v. fuel” debate is heating up with an intensity not seen for several years. But, unfortunately, the critics don’t have it right.

Instead of pointing fingers at ethanol for increased corn prices, we need to look at what’s really driving demand — energy prices, weather-related issues and a growing global middle class. The days of $2 bushel corn are over. It’s a whole new ballgame and we, as a planet, need to accept this new reality.

Corn supplies are currently tight and in high demand. It’s understandable why naysayers would point to ethanol as the culprit. It’s an easy target. But, if we look back at 1996, the last time U.S. corn supplies were as low as is expected at the end of this year, the ethanol industry didn’t even have both feet on the ground.

At the end of 1996, corn stocks dipped to 426 million bushels, or a stocks-to-use ratio of 5 percent. This year we again expect to see the stocks-to-use ratio dip to 5 percent. Due to higher use of corn, however, that same 5 percent rate translates to ending stocks of 675 million bushels.