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DATE: 23 Dec. 2008


TO: My Political E-Mail List


SUBJECT: Obama & Vilsack will secure clean, green food & energy supplies.

I just received a couple very interesting articles from my cousin Larry, a corn and soybean farmer back in Iowa — the homestate of Obama’s pick for Secretary of Agriculture, Ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack. While most of us don’t live on farms — we can thank the farmers for feeding us citydwellers so well — agricultural issues today are vital to not only our supplies of food but also to our supplies of energy and, thus, the security of our nation and the health of our planet. Keeping that and some recent controversies in mind, I’ve excerpted below some very interesting passages.


Here are few quick facts that are important to know:

The following articles show how despite such opposition, Barack Obama and Tom Vilsack will be promoting the development of biofuel technologies, in order to secure a homegrown source of affordable energy that will not add to Global Warming. As Obama has said, “Tom understands that the solution to our energy crisis will be found not in the oil fields abroad but in our farm fields here at home.” That is “change we need” — compared to having George “Big Oil” Bush or John “Big Oil” McCain in the White House.








From the Sioux City Journal


Amid widespread praise for the nomination of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, a mixture of farm, nutrition and environmental groups said Wednesday they have high hopes for meaningful change in U.S. policy toward renewable fuels, nutrition programs and farm subsidies. ...


“Tom understands that the solution to our energy crisis will be found not in the oil fields abroad but in our farm fields here at home,” Obama said.


Vilsack, who spoke briefly, said he expected to lead an Agriculture Department that was “innovative and creative in all its work in a time of economic anxiety and limited resources.” ...


Renewable fuels are expected to get a big boost from the Obama administration, and Vilsack’s selection will give him a prominent role in the debate.


In a newspaper opinion article in October, Vilsack called for another “Industrial Revolution” to reform the country’s energy use. He called it the key to battling a global economic meltdown.


Rural advocates say the ex-governor’s emphasis on encouraging ethanol and wind energy while he was a two-term governor, and his push for economic development, are good signs for the future. ...


Craig Cox, Midwest vice president of the Environmental Working Group, said Vilsack has recognized the need to embrace cellulosic sources for ethanol. Being the ex-governor of a corn-based state, he added, “will give him more credibility when he puts on the table the real limitations of corn ethanol.”


The main ethanol lobby praised Vilsack’s selection, too, saying he understands getting to cellulosic ethanol doesn’t mean abandoning corn.


Obama and Vilsack “know that to get to ethanol 2.0, you’ve got to make sure ethanol 1.0 is a success,” said Matt Hartwig, a spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association.


Like many Iowa politicians, Vilsack has backed limitations on farm subsidies, even though the state is a major recipient of payments.


Advocates for reform said Wednesday they’ve got a friend in Vilsack. ...


Recently, the president-elect complained about wasteful spending, citing a report detailing farm subsidy payments to people making more than $25 million per year.


“The signals we’re getting is that everything’s on the table,” said Monica Mills, director of government relations for Bread for the World, a group that fights hunger in the U.S. and overseas. ...


During the presidential campaign, Obama was critical of some trade deals, like the North American Free Trade Act.






From Wallaces Farmer
(A Leading Agricultural Publication)
December 2008


A new coalition of ethanol producers has teamed up to promote ethanol nationwide and to lobby government policy regarding renewable fuels.


The organization, called Growth Energy, is made up of six of the major independent ethanol makers. ...


Citing a need to have smart policy reform and proactive grassroots promotion of ethanol, the advocates have banded together to fight misperceptions about the corn-based fuel. Growth Energy’s first call to arms is to set the record straight on food prices.


The heads of Poet, Green Plains, Hawkeye Renewables and others ... explained the launch of an ad campaign by Growth Energy to respond to claims being made by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. GMA asserts that high food costs are caused by high corn prices associated with increased demand for ethanol.


“GMA is making a false argument,” says Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Hawkeye Renewables. ... He points directly to the fact that corn prices this fall are about half of what they were last summer, yet food prices have continued to rise.


As further evidence against GMA’s argument, the Growth Energy group cites university studies that say increasing energy costs were responsible for most of the run-up in corn prices. ...


“The big food manufacturing companies and their Washington lobbyists have been trying to blame the rising cost of food on American ethanol producers and corn farmers,” notes Jeff Broin, chief executive of Poet, which operates ethanol plants in Iowa and other states. “Now that the price of corn has dropped from near $8 last summer down to under $4 a bushel, we ask the Big Food industry to explain to the American people why food prices are still high.”


Broin adds, “The lies GMA has been spreading about clean, green biofuels have finally been exposed as a dishonest smear campaign. It’s wrong, and we’re coming together to ask Big Food to give Americans a break.” ...


The GMA hired a public relations firm last spring to mount advertising and media campaigns blaming increased food costs on biofuels production, centering their premise on a claim that the increased price of corn forced food manufacturers to raise food prices.


Growth Energy, however, says GMA’s campaign has simply been used to deflect attention from Big Food’s profit growth. “The GMA is claiming there is a lag time before food prices reflect the lower costs of oil and corn, but there was no lag time when GMA members raised food prices. Consumers took the hit right away,” notes Rastetter. ...


“The big food companies are making record profits and will keep charging what they can get away with; but we will not allow them to smear ethanol,” Rastetter adds. “Let’s put aside food vs. fuel arguments and focus on the facts. Ethanol isn’t the reason food prices are high. The food manufacturers are.” ...


Monte Shaw, executive director of the IRFA [Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, says] ... “Unfortunately, the big budgets are often on the other side with the big food companies and big oil companies.”


Shaw adds, “If you want to blame ethanol for helping raise the price of corn from $1.80 to $3.80 a bushel, OK. We probably had a lot to do with that and that’s good [for corn producers]. But we did not run the price of corn up to 8 bucks. That was speculation. Corn went up, the bubble burst and it’s come down now. The food manufacturing industry has record profits, so don’t blame us. We’re going to fight back.”


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