Gary Varvel is one of the most widely recognized editorial cartoonists in the Midwest. His cartoons regularly appear in the Indianapolis Star, the major daily in the Hoosier capitol city. And many of the messages of his cartoons often seem spot-on to conservative-minded farm folk.
However, a recent cartoon blasted ethanol and biofuels, not through words, but through the illustration and implication. According to Megan Kuhn, media communications manager for the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association, the cartoon implicated biofuels as a cause for there still being starving children around the world. You can check that specific cartoon out HERE.
Upset by the implication, ISA and ICGA stepped to the plate and begin fighting back. A press release issued by Kuhn reminded people that in the past nearly 60 years, the price of corn has gone up less than 400%, even at today's historically high corn prices, while the cost of a barrel of oil has increased more than 40 times over.
Other sources recently have picked up the fight against media reports that high food prices are somehow related o farmers getting rich. This particular editorial pointed out that high energy prices, not high food prices, were driving up food prices. The main culprit is increased costs for transportation to move goods to the store.
Industry analysts in the livestock arena who watch how farmers interact and react with such animal activist groups as PERTA and the like have been preaching all winter that farmers need to step forward and tell their story. The swift reaction of the ISA and ICGA through their executive director, media communications manager and even farmer officers would seem to think that some have taken Wes Jamison's message to heart. He's one of the speakers who came to Indiana last winter, from the University of Florida as an expert in interactions with animal rights activists, and preached that it's time farmers step up and do their own bidding.
The ISA and ICGA actually went on the offensive before the Varvel cartoon appeared. They issued reaction to articles printed in Time magazine and aired on large, Midwestern TRV channels claiming that ethanol and biofuels would be the ruination, not the salvation, of America. Many fo the opponents of biofuels seem to be focusing on the food vs. fuel issue.
Kudos to the ISA and ICGA staff and membership for stepping forward and expressing views on member's behalf about these important issues.