Fuels America launched a campaign to set the record straight on the real way to lower prices at the pump yesterday, releasing both a video and an op-ed that ran in Beltway must-read Politico. Using facts to combat the anti-ethanol hype being used in the current assault on the RFS, the multi-pronged push to provide real information is making a splash in the media and with those engaged in the online energy dialogue.
The video, “The Truth Behind High Gas Prices in 60 Seconds”, explains that:
“We can’t drill our way to cheaper gas, but we can get lower gas prices – by stopping the oil industry’s monopoly. First step? We need to fight for other options – like renewable fuel. Watch our video to learn the truth behind the price we pay for gas.”
In an op-ed published in Politico, Growth Energy CEO Tom Bius and Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen looked at volatility in the RINs market, a cause of concern for many on the Hill as of late.
“The story here is simple. Opponents of renewable fuel, led by the oil industry, want to convince Capitol Hill that renewable identification numbers, or RINs, are the harbingers of doom for U.S. gas prices. Three facts every member of Congress should know about RINs: They are free, they are primarily traded by oil refiners to oil refiners, and they were created at the oil companies’ insistence. Early this year, the price of RINs rose dramatically, but since oil companies dominate the RINs market — and since ethanol supplies are increasing — we are hard-pressed to see a reason for that spike in prices.”
To read the editorial in opinion piece in Politico, click here.
Today, a second op-ed by Bius and Dinneen ran in Roll Call. Here, they called for the confirmation of Gina McCarthy as EPA administrator and Eric Munoz as secretary of Energy as these confirmations would help continue the successes already achieved by biofuels under the RFS.
“We’ve done our part: Foreign oil imports are down 10 percent. We’ve added $40 billion to America’s gross domestic product. We’re offering blends from E15 to E85 in some parts of the country. But, as energy analyst Daniel Dicker says, ‘[Oil] refiners don’t make ethanol, so they’re not really all that happy about making E15. What they want to do is make gasoline because that’s what they make money off of.’”
To read the editorial in opinion piece in Roll Call, click here.
The push to get the truth about America’s renewable, environmentally conscious energy source out is growing. To become part of this positive change, click here.
Without question, most Americans have probably wondered at one point or another where some members of the U.S. House of Representatives get their information. Prone to tossing about wildly inaccurate blanket statements, a segment of politicians aiming to bring down the Renewable Fuel Standard and our nation’s energy security are playing fast and loose with the truth.
And it seems like no one is watching.
Just today, CNN Money released a story about how the price for many consumer goods fell. Based upon information released by the Labor Department on changes during March to the Consumer Price Index, the story explained that one major factor contributing to the decreased CPI was a drop in food prices at the grocery store.
“Prices on whole milk, potatoes, lettuce and pork chops all declined during the month,” the article stated. “But food prices at restaurants and cafeterias rose slightly.”
Yet, only days ago, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced legislation that would remove corn-based ethanol from the federal Renewable Fuels Standard in 2014. Calling the RFS an “unworkable federal policy”, Goodlatte even noted that he plans to introduce legislation which would eliminate the RFS entirely.
How do the bill’s supporters justify this attack?
Fellow sponsor Jim Costa (D-Calif.) explained, “We can’t afford to keep putting food in our fuel tanks. It’s no longer just about agriculture or energy. It’s about putting food on our families’ tables.”
With food prices at the grocery story, presumably the most common place to purchase affordable food for our families’ tables, actually falling and a lower percentage of our income going to food than any other developed nation, how does this justification make sense?
Simply, no one is taking time to connect the dots.
Allegations are thrown out and accepted as fact without any real evaluation. Looking at the news in its totality instead of as a series of unconnected sound bites shows the inherent fallacies in basis upon which these legislators are putting forth a bill that would have a massive impact on our nation’s energy supply.
An attack on the RFS is an attack on legislation that has successfully decreased our dependence on foreign oil while moving our nation toward a renewable, more environmentally friendly fuel. Make no mistake, a step in this direction will have consequences that every American feels in one way or another. Whether it is by paying more at the pump next year or by breathing in more harmful pollutants, handing back the gains made through the RFS will harm American families.
Good policy may be complex. It may not make a snappy sound bite. It is what Americans must protect to ensure a better future for their families.
Two strong advocates for agriculture in Congress are retiring after this term, leaving a void in the Senate that could make it even more challenging for farmers and ranchers to have their voices heard on the Hill in the future.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced Saturday that he would not to seek reelection in 2014. “I’m 73 years old right now,” Harkin said in a statement. “When the current Congress is over, I will have served in the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate for a total of 40 years. After 40 years, I just feel it’s somebody else’s turn.”
On Friday, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) announced he would be retiring after serving a combined 20 years in the House and Senate. His reasoning is different than Harkin’s. “Instead, this is about frustration, both at a lack of leadership from the White House and at the dearth of meaningful action from Congress, especially on issues that are the foundation of our nation’s economic health,” Chambliss said.
Both of these lawmakers have served in leadership positions on the agriculture committees in both the Senate and House and have helped shepherd several farm bills through Congress. Certainly both of their reasons for not seeking reelection are very good ones. There is definitely something to be said for limiting terms in Congress and no doubt a lack of action in Washington, but agriculture needs its friends on the Hill and they are getting fewer and harder to come by. We can only hope that they will be followed by others who see the importance of our nation’s food system.
Phone to the ear is the way National Corn Growers Vice President of Public Policy Jon Doggett spends most of his day, so doing interviews at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting just two days after the election was no different than any other. He just had to squeeze in that phone time between the interviews!
Broadcasters were most interested in what now after the election and Doggett told them that getting a farm bill done is a major priority for the upcoming lame duck session, but will they get it done? “I think the chances are excellent – IF there’s a commitment from the leadership that they will move forward, but if there’s not the commitment, I can guarantee what the result will be – it will be nothing,” said Doggett.
Congress will also have to deal with the “fiscal cliff” in the short lame duck session. “If we don’t make our decisions by the end of 2012, we’re gonna jump off a cliff,” said Doggett. “We’re not at the edge yet, but we’re kind of looking over the edge.”
Doggett also talked about other issues, like the RFS waiver and how important it is for farmers to make their voices heard in Washington.
With only days remaining before the election, the vast majority of Americans have already decided which candidate they will back when they cast their ballot. President Obama, Mitt Romney and both men’s proxies are running at a feverish pace back and forth between a hand full of “key” states trying everything short of giving away free puppies in an effort to woo the rare undecided voters.
Although it hardly competes with the precision-crafted media events that candidates call rallies, the National Corn Growers Association offers farmers something that seems to be in short supply this year. It offers concrete answers, in writing, on where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most in rural America.
Take a moment this weekend to take advantage of this incredible resource. Even decided voters should know exactly where future leaders stand on the unique issues that will impact their lives in a direct manner.
NCGA, non-partisan in its very nature, understands the grassroots power its members can wield. In providing this information, it hopes to help farmers take that power to the polls.
To access the candidate responses in their entirety, click here.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney put his focus on agriculture and rural policy on Tuesday with the release of an agricultural policy white paper and a visit to an Iowa family farm.
Romney pledged to get a farm bill passed as president and blamed President Obama for the failure of Congress to do so yet, despite the fact that Republican leadership held up getting a bill to the House floor while Democratic leadership got one passed on the Senate side. “The president has to exert the kind of presidential leadership it takes to get the House and Senate together and actually pass a farm bill,” Romney said during his speech to over 1000 supporters at the Koch family farm near Van Meter, Iowa.
Romney’s “vision for a vibrant rural America” includes tax policies to support family farms, expanding agricultural trade, achieving energy independence by 2020, and creating a commonsense regulatory environment. “The regulatory burden under this administration has just gone crazy,” said Romney. “I’m going to put cap on regulation and any new major regulation will have to be approved by Congress.”
Under tax policy, the white paper says Romney will permanently eliminate the estate tax while his trade policy for agriculture includes completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pursuing new agreements, specifically in Latin America. His agenda for energy independence includes maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), “fulfilling the federal government’s commitment to biofuels growers and refiners and providing them the certainty they need to follow through on their investments in promising technologies.”
While Governor Romney failed to mention biofuels in his speech, he did tell a couple of Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) members after his speech that he supported both the RFS and ethanol. The exchange between IRFA President Brad Albin with the Renewable Energy Group (REG) and past president Walt Wendland of Golden Grain Energy and Romney saying “I do support the RFS and ethanol” was captured on video which can be seen below.
On energy, both candidates say they support maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“Our rural communities, farmers, and ranchers can increase our energy independence and boost the transition to a clean energy economy,” Obama said in his response. “We are increasing the level of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline, and the new Renewable Fuel Standard helped boost biodiesel production to nearly 1 billion gallons in 2011, supporting 39,000 jobs.”
Governor Romney said in his answer that developing our nation’s energy resources is key to the success of the agriculture industry. “The increased production of biofuels plays an important part in my plan to achieve energy independence,” said Romney. “In order to support increased market penetration and competition among energy sources, I am in favor of maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard. I also support eliminating regulatory barriers to a diversification of the electrical grid, fuel system, and vehicle fleet.”
On farm policy, Obama said he understands the need for a strong farm safety net. “That’s why I increased the availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help over 590,000 farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss,” he said. “And I know that any farm bill passed this year – and there needs to be a farm bill passed this year – needs to have adequate protections for America’s farmers.”
Romney said he supports passage of a strong farm bill “that provides the appropriate risk management tools that will work for farmers and ranchers throughout the country.” He also noted that since other nations subsidize their farmers, “we must be careful not to unilaterally change our policies in a way that would disadvantage agriculture here in our country.”
Labor and estate tax are two areas where the two presidential candidates hold differing views in issues important to agriculture, according to Linda Johnson, AFBF Director of Policy Research. President Obama says a system to hire foreign workers should “only be used when U.S. workers are not available” while Governor Romney believes the “current system for issuing visas to temporary, seasonal workers is broken.”
While both candidates agree the estate tax system needs reform, Linda says there was clear distinction between the two on how that should be done. “Romney said he would eliminate the estate tax as president,” she said. “Obama wants to return the top tax rate on estates to 45% but said he would reinstate the $7 million per couple tax exemption.”
Listen to or download my interview with Linda about the questionnaire here: Linda Johnson, AFBF
Voters, confronted by an onslaught of political advertising this year, might not have the time or energy to carefully peruse every issue confronting them on the ballot. With a myriad of possible implications and unspecified consequences, each issue presents challenges for even the politically-minded citizen.
In the battle to make a choice that reflects their actual intention, many voters, quite wisely, follow the money trail back to the groups supporting the measure. Basically, the company an issue keeps often tells quite a story about the intricate workings of that particular legislation.
In California, Proposition 37 has made some less-than-reputable friends. Backed by trial lawyers, this ballot initiative would provide fertile soil for nuisance lawsuits that would further clog an overloaded court system. Skilled at the art of persuasion and expert in the drafting of fine print, the lawyers behind Proposition 37 cloaked a piece of regulation pregnant with potential lawsuits in a veil of fiery rhetoric promoting consumer choice.
In reality, the lawyers’ pocketbooks would get fatter if the proposition passes. America’s consumers would pay for the dubious labeling scheme with true costs of this law reflected in every grocery checkout lane, contributing to massive settlements the lawyers anticipate with every food purchase they make.
Take a long, critical look at the facts. Trial lawyers, not generally a group known for their charitable nature, have no vested interest in backing Proposition 37 unless it stands to provide another avenue in which to practice their craft. In the end, consumers stand to pay repeatedly should they give the labeling-law that they have crafted the benefit of the doubt.
So, watch the company Proposition 37 keeps. It may look like the good-hearted girl-next-door, but it runs around with a notoriously disreputable crew.
In the California GMO Labeling debate, it seems everyone involved can agree upon one basic premise – consumers have a right to know. The debate occurs around exactly what that right entails.
Arguing to redefine terms such as “natural”, even to the exclusion of foods such as olive oil, proponents of the bill seem to believe consumers have a right to know exactly what their agenda-driven groups says that they do.
On the other hand, farmers believe that consumers have a right to know too. In a recent blog post, farmer Mike Haley carefully explained a side of the story that labeling loonies would prefer to push to the backburner. Walking readers through the specific actions that this law would require of him, Haley shows the hidden costs of supporting the propositions hidden agenda.
Take a minute to see the true costs of this measure. If it passes, everyone will pay.
Consumers have a right to know what they eat. They also have a right to know the consequences of their vote.
Have you ever heard about the Corn Farmers Coalition and wondered who actually sees this stuff?
Sure, the ads catch attention from a mile away. Sure, the beaming family farmers, on their real farms, convey powerful, impactful messages about today’s farm. Sure, these ads appear to be something that would draw any normal reader into a short ag literacy lesson. But, where do people actually come into contact with them?
As always, the innovative minds behind the campaign have found new, thoughtfully selected venues that reach those outside of rural America want to find their information- where they already are.
This week, the campaign launched its fourth year with fresh faces and facts both in traditional venues, such as the DC Metro, and in other places that pack a punch, like the online version of the Washington Post. The award-winning informational series has, yet again, even more finely honed its choice of channel to include the online news sites that, according to the papers themselves, have greatly impacted how Americans consume news content.
Like the stories covered by journalists, the Corn Farmers Coalition paints a clear picture of farming, an industry with which 98.5 percent of the population has little or no contact. Like the feature stories, it provides answers to the questions most prevalent in readers’ minds. Like the hard-hitting exposes, it shows the truth, unbiased and in all of its glory.