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Farm leaders challenge ethanol myths

Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association and other U.S. agriculture groups have joined together to dispel many of the accusations that have been levied against biofuels in recent months and emphasize the positive contributions of corn ethanol.

“We are extremely disappointed by the lengths to which the Grocery Manufacturers Association and its allies have gone in their effort to bad-mouth corn farmers and ethanol producers, said NCGA President Ron Litterer, a grower from Greene, Iowa. “It really is an attack on all of agriculture, because it asserts that farmers are no longer able to do what they have done for centuries — feed the world.”

Litterer was joined by executives from the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Renewable Fuels Association for a conference call with members of the news media, fielding questions from reporters at media outlets as diverse as Reuters, the Des Moines Register and the Minnesota Farm Guide.

“When the renewable fuels standard is fully implemented, the nation will effectively be burning a 10 percent ethanol blend in all of the gasoline supply,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“In 2007, we imported an average of 14 percent of our oil from OPEC. Ten percent of our gasoline coming from domestic sources will put a pretty significant dent in that number.”

In his remarks, David Cleavinger, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, talked about the huge impact farmers felt from rising costs for fuel and other farm inputs such as herbicides. “We really feel like we should all be working together to attack these input prices, primarily fuel prices,” Cleavinger said. “That's the real threat to food production in this country and around the world, and it does none of us any good to blame renewable fuels or the business of agriculture.”

The NCGA’s Litterer also stressed how inexpensive corn was as a food ingredient, even at $6 per bushel.“

One example we have seen in the media in the past week or so is an effort to tie higher prices for popcorn at the theater to higher prices on field corn,” Litterer said, pointing out that popcorn is not the same as field corn. “The farm price of a tub of popped corn is less than the cost of the paper tubs they scoop it into.”

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