Ethanol proponents from the halls of Congress to the corn fields of the Midwest are expressing outrage at documentation that major food corporations may have supported a high-dollar public relations campaign to blame farmers and ethanol for rising food prices.
In a prepared floor statement on Thursday, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa told his colleagues that “this anti-ethanol campaign is not a coincidence. It turns out that a $300,000, six-month retainer of a beltway public relations firm is behind the smear campaign, hired by the Grocery Manufacturers Association.”
That information was reported Wednesday in the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call, which obtained confidential documentation of the effort.
“Rising food and fuel prices have led the biofuels industry to take a beating on Capitol Hill the past few weeks,” the article stated. “But the pummeling hasn’t been by chance — it’s part of a concerted effort spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Glover Park Group. GMA has been leading an ‘aggressive’ public relations campaign for the past two months in an effort to roll back ethanol mandates that passed in last year’s energy bill.”
Among the documents obtained by Roll Call was the GMA’s proposal request “to build a groundswell in support of freezing or reversing some provisions of the 2007 Energy Bill and for the elimination/reform of ethanol subsidies and import restrictions.”
Glover Park Group’s proposal response included the number one objective to “obliterate whatever intellectual justification might still exist for corn-based ethanol among policy elites.”
National Corn Growers Association president Ron Litterer says that corn farmers are shocked and outraged by the news. “It is simply unfathomable that food companies through the Grocery Manufacturers Association chose to smear their farmer-suppliers rather than cooperate with us to meet the growing challenge for America’s fuel needs,” Litterer said. “Unfortunately, from what we’ve heard this not the only campaign in the works to place the blame on agriculture.”