Americans should understand that this year’s drought—the worst in 50 years—isn’t the primary reason for record-high food prices. The drought made things worse, but the leading driver of long-term increases in food costs is a deeply flawed federal mandate.

In 2005, Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard to mandate the use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline. The cost of food commodities immediately began to rise. As a result, Americans have had to deal with some of the highest food prices on ­record. While the drought will end at some point, the price increases caused by the ethanol mandate will continue unless the government reverses course.

(For more, see: Fast food industry dishes RFS scare tactics)

Under the federal mandate, Americans must use 15 billion gallons of ethanol in gasoline ­annually by 2015. To meet this goal, 5.3 billion bushels of corn per year—equal to more than 40% of the 2011 corn crop—must be processed and burned as ­ethanol, not used for food or livestock feed.

For more, see: A Mandate to Raise Food Prices