The oil industry and a coalition of national food and livestock groups have filed suit against the E-P-A’s decision to increase the amount of ethanol added to gasoline — saying the increased use of ethanol in gasoline will drive up their costs.
Nebraska is the nation’s number-two ethanol producer and Midwest ethanol advocate Monte Shaw says the federal lawsuit is motivated by greed.
Shaw says they knew there were groups that were going to oppose the step up to E-15 “no matter how scientifically sound, and no matter how important to the country” the decision was. He says special interest groups like the American Petroleum Institute don’t want the country to use less oil so “they are going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at this.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the American Meat Institute, the National Council of Chain Restaurants, the National Meat Association, the National Turkey Federation, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council, the Snack Food Association and the American Frozen Food Institute are part of the coalition that filed suit.
Shaw says these are not “family farmers” and their motivation is clear. “They like cheap corn, for years, quite frankly for decades, they made a lot of money taking buck-20, buck-50 corn from the State of Iowa that the taxpayers had to make of the difference for with the farm programs and then turning that into food products for the general public,” Shaw says.
He says those groups don’t like it now that farmers are getting a fair price for their corn. And he says the price of corn has very little impact on food prices. Shaw says the debate over whether using corn for fuel increases food costs was a way for corporate food manufacturers to keep making big money.
Shaw says the idea that high corn prices increase the cost of food got a lot of traction back in 2008 when corn prices started going up because it was a new idea and food prices were going up and people didn’t know who to blame. He says people have become more educated that the price that farmers get for corn is “pretty small potatoes” compared to the price that big food manufacturers get.
He uses a box of cornflakes as his example. “It costs more to buy the cardboard and print cornflakes on it, than it does to pay the farmer for the corn that ends up in that box,” Shaw says, “that’s the type of thing that we have to keep in front of the public. This is all about big food manufacturing profits.”
It’s a matter of public record that when corn prices were at their highest in 2008, he says, food manufacturers were making record profits and they blamed corn prices so they had an excuse to raise food prices. Shaw says every credible review of the facts from the U-S-D-A to the World Bank finds corn prices had a negligible impact on food prices. He says energy prices impact the cost of food many times more than the price of corn and ethanol helps reduce energy prices.
Shaw is executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association. Iowa is the nation’s number-one ethanol producer.