New Ads Strike Back at Big Oil’s Ethanol Attack

In Biofuels by Cathryn

In major markets across the country, Growth Energy is giving television viewers a healthy dose of reality with a series of satirical ads exposing Big Oil’s big plan to keep renewable fuels out of the market. Featuring Mr. Slick and Dummy, a ventriloquist and his puppet, the ads point out how oil interests use misinformation perpetuated by virtual mouthpieces to ramp up rumors about ethanol anyone could recognize as self-serving propaganda if it came from their mouths.

The ads, which will also run in print and online, illustrate what many who study the industry have seen for years. Big Oil manufactures anti-ethanol campaigns for one reason – ensuring they keep a stranglehold on our nation’s energy supply. In parroting the oil industry’s propaganda, ethanol bashing “experts” become no more than puppets for their fossil fuel masters.

Take a moment to check out the ad for yourself by clicking here.

Ethanol offers a renewable alternative to gasoline that frees the United States from an addiction to what Big Oil pushes. It does so while keeping costs down and dollars in our economy.

Don’t be spoon-fed supposed facts cleverly manufactured to come in an easy-to-swallow package. Think about your pocketbook, your environment and your nation’s future. Think about ethanol.

Keep Your Money out of Oil’s Well-Manicured Clutches

In Ethanol, Food vs Fuel by Cathryn

purse-of-cashWhat 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.

Support Fuel Freedom in 140 Characters or Less

In E85 by Cathryn

photoWhat happens when you give people a choice in what they purchase? The market goes to work.

Recently, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association released data indicating that E85 sales jumped an impressive 43 percent in the second quarter of the fiscal year. With reports of a strong corn crop driving prices down, consumers with flex fuel vehicles are choosing to use their vehicles biofuel-ready capability to save big at the pump.

At the same time, Senators Klobuchar and Grassley are calling for an investigation of the practices Big Oil uses to squash choice and firm their stranglehold on America’s fuel economy. They want to make sure that the oil industry does not use nefarious tactics in its quest to quash consumer choice. They want all Americans to be able to benefit from domestically-produced biofuels the way Iowans already do today.

In the marketplace for fuels, consumers can only save when given choices. Overreliance on petroleum leaves consumers helpless when prices fluctuate. Fuel options, and the vehicles that allow them to take advantage of them, free Americans from the whims of a monopoly fully willing to put aside the best interests of the nation for the profitability of the few.

Show your support for Klobuchar and Grassley’s willingness to stand up to Big Oil and act in a bipartisan to defend America’s fuel freedom. Send a tweet applauding their actions at @amyklobuchar and @chuckgrassley today.

The Need for Future Talent in Ag

In agribusiness, Audio, Education by Cindy

It was over 2,000 years ago that Jesus said “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few” and that is apparently very true today in the agribusiness world.

AgCareers-SMThe HR Roundtable, which included more than 60 agribusiness companies and university representatives, highlighted the need for workers to meet the growing demand for jobs in the industry. According to President Eric Spell, more than one million agribusiness veterans are expected to retire in the next three or so years, while at the same time jobs in the industry are growing and there is a shortage of students who are graduating and taking jobs in the agribusiness field.

Spell says the two hottest career fields in agriculture over the next few years are in plant sciences and agronomy. “It all revolves around yields and how to produce more with less,” he said. “A student will not go wrong choosing that career field. The demand for those occupations has never been higher.”

Spell says they are turning their attention to returning veterans to help fill the demand for agricultural jobs. “We need to look for unconventional sources of talent and the military is a good example of that,” he said. Interview with Eric Spell

AgWarriors logoTo that end, AgCareers has adopted an employment program originally developed by the International Agri-Center called AgWarriors. “A returning military vet can post their resume which will be flagged with the AgWarriors logo so employers can search specific to that category,” said Spell, who noted that 35% of the jobs listed on right now don’t require an agriculture education, such as logistics, accounting, paralegal, attorneys, and even nurses.

AgCareers is also working to let returning vets know what the most common transferable skills and occupations for agriculture. “The agriculture industry has a lot of job opportunities that are a good fit for returning veterans and military men and women,” director of marketing communications Ericka Osmundson says. “Every month there are about 3500 to 4000 jobs posted on AgCareers and about 10,000 applications that pass through the site.” Interview with Erika Osmundson

Just like the military, agriculture is looking for (more than) a few good men and women to sign up for the future of our country and the world.

EPA Head Visits Iowa

In Administration, Audio, Environmental, Ethanol, government by Cindy

mccarty-head-shotThe newly confirmed head of the Environmental Protection Agency visited the Iowa State Fair last week, where she spoke about her goal of building a better relationship with farmers.

“My commitment to you is that at the end of my term, we will have a stronger, more productive, more trusting relationship between EPA and the agriculture community,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy during her brief remarks.

In an interview with USDA Radio from Iowa, McCarthy also had some encouraging words about renewable fuels. “We’re at a pretty exciting time,” she said. “We are seeing a lot of activity, especially here in Iowa where they have advanced ethanol plants. We’re working closely with the farming community and we’re looking at new feedstocks all the time, new ways of producing biofuels.”

In addition, McCarthy offered her views in support of the RFS. “We see that the Renewable Fuel Standard is operating effectively, that the law gives us plenty of tools and flexibility that we can move this forward,” she said.

McCarthy was just confirmed as the administrator of EPA last month. Listen to her comments about farmers, working with USDA, and renewable fuels here: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

Corn Farmers Look to Produce Fertilizer from Wind

In State Groups by Cindy

MNwindmillFarmers in Minnesota soon could be turning wind energy into fertilizer. Research funded by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association is developing a way to have the wind turbines put up in corn fields produce the very nitrogen fertilizer that helps those same crops grow.

“We take water, and we separate the hydrogen and oxygen. We pull nitrogen from the air and combine the hydrogen and nitrogen to form anhydrous ammonia, the predominant nitrogen fertilizer source farmers use,” explains Mike Reese, the Renewable Energy Director for the University of Minnesota at the school’s West Central Research Station in Morris, Minn.

This first-in-the-world research project still uses the tried-and-true process of producing ammonia for fertilizer… but hopefully more locally and efficiently. Reese says they need to figure out how to make this wind-powered process commercially scalable.

“Right now, anhydrous ammonia and nitrogen fertilizer is produced on a massive scale in central locations. What we’re trying to do is make this so we could have community production or co-op facilities to produce the nitrogen fertilizer locally,” he said.

Reese added that there are enough resources in Minnesota to make all the fertilizer needed for the state’s entire corn crop, a possible $400 million industry that is now done completely out of the state.

In a Deluge of Details, Seek Out the Substance of the Story

In Farming, Food, Media by Cathryn

Menus at many of the hottest restaurants in cities from Portland to Princeton read like a carefully crafted tome of local one-upmanship. The Smith family loving raised the joyful cow who willingly ended its sunny, grass-fed existence to bring you the finest six-ounce filet that money can buy. The Swiss chard accompanying it actually comes from the Jones family down the lane and three houses to the left. Chefs and aspiring novelists have teamed up to tell the entire backstory of your meal. With so much focus on the farmers behind one’s brunch, diners continue to coo overly-emotive praise at the resourcefulness of the establishment capable of finding family farmers to provide their posh plates.

The underlying assumption is that the ingredients listed with the pinpoint precision honestly required only by a logistics manager are unique because they come from a family farm. As everyone seems to know, there are hardly any of those left.

The Washington Post boldly lifted the starched tablecloth off of the hidden truth this week explaining that, in all reality, 96.4 percent of America’s farms are family farms. The article that exposed the farming industry for what it really is, one made up of family-owned and operated businesses, explained how America’s family farmers have grown the amount of land they cultivate or increased the number of chickens in their flock through hard work and modern technology. Recognizing the ability of family farmers to adapt a rapidly-changing world, the Post provided a peak behind the farm gate many haven’t seen for generations.

For many, the term family farm comes wrapped in a gauzy haze of sepia-toned associations. Family farms may be larger than the nostalgia-fueled diners notions may dictate suit their idyllic fantasy farm, but words have specific meanings even if one chooses surround them in clouds of self- created implications and associations.

Take a moment to find out what real family farmers are like today by clicking here. Family farms may have grown, but the farmers themselves still strive to feed every American as if they were part of their own family. Enjoy this bounty knowing that, even if it doesn’t come accompanied by a novella of names, it probably does come from a family farm.

Ethanol Education for Bikers

In Audio, Ethanol by Cindy

rfs-sturgis-fuel3The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) motored on up to the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for the fifth year in a row last week to provide an ethanol education for bikers.

“This year we’ve had a lot of push back from the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) and it’s really focused around E15 and it has gotten really confusing to a lot of people, said RFA director of market development and motorcycle enthusiast Robert White. “We want folks to use the right fuel; to know what type of fuel they can use.” Interview with Robert White

rfs-sturgis-fuel4To that end, RFA treated bikers to a “Free Fuel Happy Hour” with a special blend of 93 octane E10 for three days of the event at the legendary Buffalo Chip Campground. First in line for the free fuel was Buffalo Chip Campground founder and President Rod Woodruff, who says ethanol is a good product that gets a bad rap. “I use it in all my cars and I’ve got 69 vehicles here at the Chip … we use it in all of them. I’ve used it in my motorcycles for 8 or 10 years now,” he said. ““We’re very pleased to have the Renewable Fuels Association at the Chip and offer our campers some education and free ethanol-blended fuel.” Interview with Rod Woodruff

In addition to the free fuel, RFA sponsored ethanol promotional video messages on jumbotrons that aired 144 times each day, as well as educational materials, banners and merchandise including koozies and t-shirts.

2013 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Photo Album

Corn Crop Lowered but Record Still Expected

In General, USDA by Cindy

Despite a wet spring causing a challenging start to the season, the 2013 corn crop is still looking to break new ground this year, according to the latest USDA production estimate out Monday.

corn-field“This crop should be a record crop,” said USDA chief economist Joe Glauber. “This is our first objective yield survey of the corn crop, showing a yield of 154.4 bushels per acre, which is way off trend yields but that combined with the real large acreage we saw planted this spring means a very large crop.”

The forecast is 13.8 billion bushels, down slightly from the last estimate, but up 28 percent from 2012. The average yield estimated would be the highest since 2009. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 89.1 million acres, unchanged from the June forecast but up 2 percent from 2012.

However, Glauber points out that much can change between now and harvest, especially since crops were planted so late. “Because it’s developing late, we don’t have good ear weights yet,” he said. “These ears are going to have to fill out and right now we’re doing it on what we expect the fill out to be.” Later development also makes the crop more susceptible to early frost.

World Ag Outlook Board Chair Gerald Bange says the latest forecast means tighter supplies and higher prices. “We’ve gone up 10 cents on each end, between 4.50 and 5.30 per bushel for corn,” he said. The new World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate projects ending stocks for 2013/14 will be 122 million bushels lower.

Exports are projected 25 million bushels lower with reduced domestic supplies and increased foreign competition. “We’re going to see a lot of corn coming out of places such as Ukraine, for example,” Bange said, as well as continued strong competition from Brazil.

However, Bange was quick to note that the overall export forecast for 2013-14 is up over 70%.

USFRA Update

In Audio, USFRA by Cindy

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) is nearing its official third birthday and one of the original founding fathers is pleased with the accomplishments of the alliance, which now includes over 80 agricultural organizations and companies.

usfra-doug“I don’t know if you ever really reach your goals but think we’re seeing some real strides in the right direction,” says board member Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Wisconsin. “When we sat down to start, we were trying to sit down everybody in one room and get them all to work together and that’s a tough thing to do – but it’s come to fruition and we’re seeing some real progress.”

Among the new endeavors for USFRA is taking its highly successful national Food Dialogues effort down to a more regional level with their affiliates so they can do more of them. USFRA has identified biotechnology and antibiotic use in livestock as two major issues that they are addressing with the non-farm audience. “Those are always controversial issues,” Doug says. “We’re still going to back the science … but we’re up against some really strong emotional responses … but we sit down and debate and discuss how it works.”

There’s also been some recent changes to the USFRA website, one of which helps to address some of those hot-button issues, including a new section called FoodSource. They have also incorporated some search engine optimization to the website which brings up USFRA information for certain key words relating to agriculture.

Listen to an interview with Doug and USFRA staffer Lisa Cassady at the Ag Media Summit: USFRA update