Posted By Mark October 9, 2013
In 36 years of being directly involved in agriculture and the issues that make it so…interesting, frustrating, rewarding, and painful…I have only seen one positive story written about the issues effecting the profession, especially ethanol, in the Chicago Tribune. I remain convinced to this day that it was a mistake that slipped by editors and that the cub reporter responsible is driving a cab in the Loop and speaking in tongues.
I think it is ok to say this Windy City pub never met a farm policy or ethanol issue they didn’t like to bash, facts aside. Apparently farmers are immune to the whims of business considerations like making enough to pay the bills and plant another crop. Why else would the Trib opine that farmers are getting more for their corn after a 25 year economic drought that saw farmers getting $2 to $2.50 a bushel regardless of real world cost or demand? (Let alone make such comments in the wake of prices just dropping 40 percent).
So, following their direction, I guess all of you farmers can get off your combines and retire. Apparently you have spent your entire life, not to mention several generations, involved in the most under appreciated hobby in history. No more production of food, feed, or fiber. No more ethanol fuel because we are just going to continue to depend on prickly and dangerous oil producing nations for their finite black gold.
On a more serious note, I think the Tribune needs to be called on the carpet for the sham they have been selling to the public for years that they have a pro-business/pro-jobs position.
Despite dozens of third party experts bringing them information backed by science that exposes the errors in their thinking the Trib, especially its editorial writers, remain steadfast in their spewing of misinformation and loathing of ethanol despite its emergence as a critical economic engine in much of the U.S. Are these folks not suspicious or troubled at all by the millions of dollars being spent by the petroleum industry in recent years to damage the reputation of ethanol. One of the tenants of good journalism is to follow the money in trying to understand societal issues. Clearly Goliath is trying to squash David and somebody should be asking why.
Here are a few of the factual perversions in their latest diatribe:
- Farmers are not planting as much corn as possible. In fact we are 20 million acres shy of planting the acres we did in the 1920s.
- The Trib notes we use 40% of the corn crop to make ethanol. Actually we use the equivalent of only 27% of the crop because only the starch from the corn kernel is used to make ethanol. The protein for livestock feed is concentrated, easier to transport and a high value product.
- Blaming corn for higher meat prices is also off base. Declining domestic meat consumption and the outrageous cost of transportation of all food products to market – thank you big oil – has something to do with that.
- Plant diseases and pests are nothing new. Farmers deal with them all the time and do so very well thank you. Goss’s wilt that you reference touches only 10% of the corn crop, and is far from being devastating, unless of course you fall in the 10%.
- And did you actually criticize crop insurance in one breath while also intimating we should take away a farmer’s ability to choose what to plant? That will make the kids want to return to the farm business.
Posted By Cindy October 9, 2013
This week, the oil industry filed a lawsuit over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Again. Seems like they are always filing a lawsuit over the RFS or E15 or something to do with ethanol.
The American Petroleum Institute sued the EPA in March 2010 right after the final rule for the RFS was finally published. “They have sued EPA over implementation of the RFS before and been told that their case has no merit,” said Renewable Fuels Association president Bob Dinneen. “But the oil companies have more money than God and they are spending that on lawyers.”
Dinneen calls the lawsuit frivolous. “I view it as a lawsuit in search of a problem,” he said, noting that “the API was just using the courtroom for a press release.” The oil industry is challenging the RFS volume requirements for 2013, but Dinneen notes that the biofuels industrty is on-track to meet the requirements either by actual production or RINs generation.
Note that they are suing the federal government, which means it costs taxpayer dollars to deal with it. Frivolous lawsuits are non-essential and should be shutdown.
Posted By Cathryn October 2, 2013
The American Petroleum Institute took to Capitol Hill this week touting the results of a poll showing their most recent barrage of misinformation has indeed created confusion. Unable to provide substance in their verbal assault on the Renewable Fuel Standard, the pro-oil propaganda peddlers rely upon consumer-sentiment stats. In essence, this information demonstrates one thing – tossing copious amounts of cash into advertising that makes baseless claims can work.
In the poll, as reported by OPIS, API found that:
- 66 percent of those surveyed agreed that federal government regulations could drive up the cost of gasoline for consumers (19 percent disagreed)
- 50 percent of those surveyed agreed that blending corn-based ethanol into gasoline could increase costs to consumers (28 percent disagreed)
- 77 percent of those surveyed are concerned about putting E15 into their vehicle (18 percent are not concerned)
- 69 percent of those surveyed agreed that using even more corn for ethanol production could increase consumer prices for groceries (24 percent disagreed)
Tellingly, the group did not provide concrete evidence that these claims are rooted in reality. Instead, they argued that simply because a belief exists, it must be valid.
The series of advertisements the group currently runs promoting these exact claims must not have anything to do with it, right?
A look at the facts shows the anti-ethanol assertions to be untrue.
- Ethanol reduces the cost of gas consumers pay at the pump by nearly a dollar. Available at a lower cost than gasoline, it provides fuel blenders a way to save money so retailers can charge less at the pump.
- E15 is one of the most tested fuel blends in history. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved E15 for 2001 and newer cars and trucks.
- U.S. farmers grow more than enough corn for all uses. Each year, a supply of corn is held over to be used the following year – providing more than a half billion bushels for this year from the 2012 corn supply. U.S. ethanol production uses just three percent of the global grain supply.
- In reducing emissions, ethanol outperforms gasoline. Global ethanol production and use is estimated to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 110 million metric tons, according to energy experts – the equivalent of taking more than 20 million vehicles off the road.
If legislators and regulators fall victim to this ruse, they will be acting not in the best interest of American but instead proving that Big Oil can buy a monopoly over our fuel tanks and pocketbooks. If consumers fall prey to the advertisements aimed at ensuring oil secures its stranglehold, they act as accomplices.
Money may buy airtime and influence, but it cannot purchase the truth. Ethanol offers an alternative that benefits Americans economically, environmentally and provides a real choice. Get the facts and tell a friend.
Posted By Cindy September 26, 2013
A recent report from the Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) has found the cost for retailers to offer 15% ethanol blends is less than detractors have been claiming.
“Some of E15′s opponents have said over and over that it costs $200,000 to $300,000 to install E15,” says Robert White with the Renewable Fuels Association. “There are stations in existence today that didn’t cost that much to build!”
White says the PEI report done at the request of USDA found the actual cost can be as little as $50 for a just labels on a pump to a maximum of about $15,000. “The report shows that many stations can offer E15 for about $1200 for the entire station,” he said. “If they need dispenser work, you can get buy with an average of $4200…The cost of offering E15 is very inexpensive.
A bigger hurdle for retailers to offering E15 is the petroleum companies that supply them. Scott Zaremba, a Kansas retailer who was the first to offer E15 in the nation last year, says he was a Phillips 66 marketer until recently when the petroleum company instituted policies that prevented him from marketing the blend.
“They changed the rules mid-stream for what they would allow me to do once E15 came out,” said Zaremba. As a result, he re-branded his eight “energy retail” locations from Zarco 66 to Zarco USA and created a fuel brand of American Fuels. “With that we can offer today E15 to consumers with 2001 and newer cars, trucks and SUVS,” he said.
Scott is hoping that other fuel retailers will join the energy revolution and stand up to the oil companies so consumers can have a real choice at the pump.
Posted By Cathryn September 18, 2013
This week, American drivers mark a strange milestone as they have now paid an average of more than $3 per gallon for gas for 1,000 straight days. AAA says the prices are here to stay. Staring at the sky, pockets already emptied as paychecks haven’t kept up with inflation, frustrated commuters continue to ask, “Can’t anyone save us?”
Look toward the horizon instead of the heavens. The answer lies in corn fields across the country. As the wind blows through the stalks, it whispers, “ethanol.”
Just last year, drivers saved about a dollar a gallon through the use of E10 blends. Now that E15 is becoming available in more markets anyone driving a 2001 or newer auto can increase their ability to make ethanol’s discount to gasoline work for them. For those with the foresight to purchase flex fuel vehicles, E85 can actually bring the cost down below the $3 per gallon threshold. With most drivers logging more than 12,000 miles per year, those savings can really add up.
Right now, Big Oil is spending an incredible amount of money, money made from selling American consumers costly fuel, in an attempt to kill the very policy that brings an E10 option to the pump. They have the infrastructure and power to ensure that they quash consumer choice. They promote this cloaked attack using dollars taken from your pocket. Whether using American driver dollars to shore up a monopoly and gain even more American driver dollars is a either diabolical plot or a profitable business decision depends on which side of the gas hose you are on.
Join the fight against fossil fuel tyranny. Learn more about how renewable fuels save money for consumers and help save the environment. Together, we can escape from the oil-soaked clutches which would bleed our bank accounts dry. Learn more today.
Posted By Cindy September 17, 2013
Drivers of 2001 model year or newer vehicles can now fill up with 15% ethanol blends once again, now that the silly summer volatility vacation is over.
“We’re excited to see E15 back in Iowa,” said Iowa RFA Executive Director Monte Shaw.
Iowa’s six E15 retailers reported earlier this year that consumers had absolutely zero issues with registered E15 fueling, labeling, and engine performance when it was previously available from September 15, 2012 through May 31, 2013. E15 was sold in the state at an average of nearly a 22-cent discount to regular (no ethanol) gasoline, and at nearly an 11-cent discount to E10, the most commonly used fuel in the nation.
In the past 14 months, E15 availability has expanded to approximately 40 stations in nine states. More than 40 million miles have been driven on E15 with no known cases of engine damage, misfueling, or liability claims. E15 is unable to be sold at any of those locations between June 1 and September 15 because the proper blendstock is unavailable due to summer volatility requirements. EPA did not waive the one-pound federal requirement that the blended product have a Reid Vapor Pressure of 9 pounds or less per square inch for E15, which limits its sale during the summer months.
“After three months of waiting, retailers with compatible equipment can finally start offering E15 if allowed by their franchises,” said Renewable Fuels Association director of market development Robert White. “Given the economy, current gas prices, new data on consumer demand and sales revenue generated by retailers who are presently offering E15, I think you will see interest increase dramatically.”
Besides Iowa, E15 retailers are also located in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina.
Posted By Cindy September 12, 2013
Homegrown’s all right with me.
Homegrown is the way it should be.
Homegrown is a good thing. Neil Young – Homegrown
Grammy-winning recording artist Neil Young rocked the free world and showed he has a “heart of gold” for ethanol during a press event in Washington D.C. Monday with the National Farmers Union focused on passage of a farm bill and support of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
“I love ethanol. I love how it smells, I love the way it makes my car go, everything about it is great, it’s clean,” said Young. “It’s a beautiful fuel.”
Young, who was one of the original founders of Farm Aid in 1985, definitely won some new farmer fans with his passionate support for homegrown fuel and criticism of the oil industry.
“America does not have freedom of choice when it comes to its fuel,” he said.”Every time you get off the road, you enter a monopoly zone – it’s called Big Oil. There’s no reason why every fuel stop that has more than four fuel pumps cannot have an E85 pump…it gives Americans the freedom to choose the fuel they use.”
Young recently traveled cross country in a vehicle powered by cellulosic ethanol and electricity because he strongly believes that alternative fuels are important for the environment. “We have a very big problem, CO2 is going to be a huge issue in the next couple of years,” he said. “Ethanol and other biofuels, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, are the answer to this problem.”
Listen to some of Young’s comments here: Neil Young for Ethanol
Posted By Cathryn September 5, 2013
Today, Corn Commentary features a post authored by Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Tom Haag that originally ran on MinnesotaFarmingGuide.com.
Corn Views: Back off the Renewable Fuels Standard, it’s working
If I told you there was a piece of legislation that has reduced America’s dependence on foreign oil by 20 percent, supports 400,000 jobs, adds $43 billion to our gross domestic product, reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 34 percent and saves the typical motorist $1,200 per year, would you call for that legislation to be scaled back or repealed?
It sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? Why would anyone want to repeal a piece of legislation that is doing all of those things?
But that’s exactly what Big Oil companies and their highly paid executives, lobbyists and public relations teams are trying to do to a piece of legislation called the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).
The RFS was enacted in 2005, updated in 2007, and is one of our country’s most successful energy policies ever. Thanks to the RFS — legislation that sets market-based goals for blending renewable fuels with gasoline – Big Oil’s monopoly on transportation fuels is loosening, which allows alternatives like ethanol to compete fairly in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, Big Oil isn’t a fan of the free market and competition. It’s attacking the RFS and ethanol so it can continue gouging Americans at the pump and limit fuel choices.
I believe that America was founded on free-market principles. Businesses should compete fairly in the marketplace and consumers should be protected against monopolies like Big Oil that unfairly manipulate prices.
Consider this: A barrel of oil cost $23 in 2001. Today, oil is over $100 per barrel — a 335 percent increase – despite the fact that demand for gasoline is down and we’re drilling for more oil in places like North Dakota.
In Minnesota, the price of a gallon of gas has gone from under $1.50 to around $4 (sometimes more) over the last 11 years.
These unexplainable and unjustified price increases are not sustainable. We need legislation like the RFS to ensure fairness in the marketplace and give alternatives like ethanol a shot to compete. Because the price of ethanol is less than gasoline, it’s already saving Americans about $1.09 per gallon.
Of course, Big Oil hasn’t let the facts get in the way of its attacks on renewable fuels. It’s gotten so bad that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) recently urged the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate possibly anti-competitive practices (such as intimidating franchisees) by oil companies that may block market access for renewable fuels.
Minnesota’s corn farmers appreciate the bi-partisan efforts of both senators to protect consumers and build a transportation fuels market that is competitive. Now it’s time for other leaders in Washington to follow suit and defend the RFS.
Partisan gridlock already makes it difficult for our elected officials to pass meaningful legislation these days. The last thing Americans need is for Congress to repeal the RFS – a piece of legislation that’s saving us money, increasing competition and preserving our environment.
Corn views is a monthly column from Minnesota Corn Growers Association president Tom Haag, who farms near Eden Valley.
Posted By Cindy August 27, 2013
The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is out in full force at the 2013 Farm Progress Show, with both president Pam Johnson of Iowa and First Vice President Martin Barbre in his home state of Illinois on site.
They were doing interviews with all the farm media at the show, talking about a variety of topics. We chatted about the condition of the crop – which Pam says is “coming along” in Iowa and Martin says is “better than we’ve ever seen” in southern Illinois.
The farm bill is still a big concern for the corn growers and Pam says they are “not waiting very patiently anymore” for Congress to get the job done. They are strongly encouraging all members to contact their representatives during this August recess and urge them to make some real progress during the few days they are in session during September.
When it comes to membership, NCGA is now over 40,000 strong, which is a lot of voices that can make a big difference. “Our association has shown membership growth every year for the past 15 years,” Martin said. “Makes us feel like we’re really doing our job, really promoting the policy that the members create and making it happen.”
Pam and Martin also talk about the Renewable Fuel Standard, trade, WRDA and biotechnology in this interview.Interview with Pam Johnson and Martin Barbre
Posted By Cathryn August 22, 2013
What do you call a woman who whines about high grocery prices but shops at Whole Foods while she does it? What if she is wearing high-end yoga apparel, a designer handbag and jewelry from the most exclusive collections while she does it? Out of touch? Worse?
Big Oil thinks that most Americans would call her my neighbor, share her values and understand her experience. Furthermore, they think we would take her offhanded analysis of the correlation between energy policy and consumer economics as reliable fact.
This time, it seems that Big Oil’s attack on corn ethanol exposed a real truth – that their priorities are seriously out-of-whack.
Click here to watch the ad. Pay careful attention to the “everyday mom” at the grocery store while you do so.
Now, allow for a moment of somewhat catty contemplation.
The receipt she holds up clearly has a Whole Foods logo at the top. With bags overflowing with groceries, she bemoans how much she has to pay and attributes rising prices to ethanol in her “impromptu” analysis.
Did you roll your eyes at some point and think “Whole Paycheck’s more like it?” Think that just maybe she isn’t doing her best to shop in an even moderately cost-conscious way? Just maybe?
Let’s go back to her outfit. Is that jacket Lululemon or Athleta? Either way, it certainly isn’t from Walmart or Target. The handbag stitching and perfect riveting show an attention to detail that comes more often from Nordstrom than a no name bag. The twisted gold necklace with its delicate work could be Yurman. It could be Hardy. One thing it isn’t is cheap.
Don’t even start to contemplate how she flits her hand about with a rock like that on it…
In reality, most women head to the market with less shiny hair tucked in a ball cap. They wear sweats not expertly coordinated to set off their coloring. They carry a bag big enough to tote around the million and one emergency items their kids might need. You find them at Krogers or Kmart.
What Big Oil got wrong in this ad is that they cast a reflection of themselves, instead of one real Americans identify with. The showed a well-heeled elitist who wants to keep enough in her very lovely pocketbook to maintain her luxe lifestyle. They showed, in essence, exactly why they campaign to keep a stranglehold on our energy market. Much like the woman in their ad, they don’t want to keep their own lavish lifestyles funded.
They want to do so at the expense of the American consumer. Someone they obviously do not understand and whose best interests they do not have at heart.
The farmers who grow ethanol want the best for American consumers because that is who they are too. In towns from Sioux Falls to South Bend, they are the farm families just down the road. Like you, they want to stop paying more than they should at the pump and in the store.
Find out more about how ethanol is fueling a movement toward consumer choice by clicking here.
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