Some well regarded economists contend $20 a bushel soybeans and $10 a bushel corn and wheat are not only possible, but likely for this year and beyond.

Sounds like a good deal for grain growers and a bad one for livestock producers and consumers, but are such high prices really good for any of us?

The drought in the Midwest, and it has been one of historic proportions, adds to the price differential from planting time to harvest time for corn and soybeans this year.

Corn, for example, that went into the ground in May for a projected return of $5 a bushel, went into the combine worth more than $8 a bushel, if the grower bypassed a lucrative futures market at planting time or before.

While the unexpected $3 a bushel boost in corn prices may put a little extra jingle in the pockets of grain growers, it will conversely take at least an equal amount of money out of the pocket of livestock producers, especially poultry producers in the Southeast.

One solution has been for several highly placed political leaders, including governors in North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Texas and Arkansas to call for at least a temporary end to the federal mandate for alternative fuel production.

Ethanol producers were quick to fire back with a full salvo explaining why this would be a bad idea for grain growers and livestock producers alike.

So, the long-debated fuel versus food debate adds a third corner to the economics triangle: food versus feed versus fuel.

Though cotton growers don’t have a proverbial dog in this fight — right now — the continued loss of cotton acreage to grain, primarily due to the run-up on prices — could easily add yet another F to the fray with fiber.

Monroe, N.C., grain and cotton grower Allan Baucom says the last thing any reasonable grain farmer would want to do is to put a livestock producer out of business. “They are our customers, our neighbors, our friends, and historically our most reliable partners in agriculture,” Baucom says.