USDA Chief Says “Underground” Tactics Have Targeted Ethanol

Cindy Zimmerman

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has a difference of opinion with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

USDA press briefingDuring a Monday press conference, Secretary Ed Schafer said he had talked to the people who have “initiated these underground things that have been going on” to influence public opinion about ethanol incentives and found that while they understand that higher energy and transportation costs are the driving factor for increased food prices, they think “it’s easier” to target corn and ethanol.

“The change in the Renewable Fuels Standard, the change in the (ethanol) tariff or duty, isn’t going to effect food prices,” Schafer said. “We need to focus on things that will actually have an effect, instead of a short-term political solution we need to look long-term, because we have a long-term problem here.”

When asked directly if he was referring to the Grocery Manufacturers Association campaign against ethanol that was revealed last week by the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call and publicized by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and others, Schafer said yes.

“Clearly, we have a difference of opinion with GMA,” said Schafer. “They are a trade organization driven by their membership and evidently that is the course they chose to take, not one that I would take.”

Schafer did say that they were now talking about “sharing information” with GMA. “I would just as soon we share information ahead of the fact,” he said.

Ethanol, Food prices, Government, News