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Iowa Renewable Fuels Association responds to Associated Press story

Published: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 10:52 a.m. CDT

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To the editor:

The Associated Press recently threw journalistic principles to the wind with its factually-starved attack piece claiming that renewable, homegrown ethanol is bad for the environment.

What was lost in the AP’s predetermined, desperate quest to find the “bad side of ethanol” was the simple, yet important truth about corn planting, conservation practices, and farming in general.

A basic review of the facts shows the AP went out of its way to side-step reality in order to cook-up its anti-ethanol article.

The AP claims increased ethanol production has caused 5 million acres of land to be removed from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) since President Obama took office. Yet, USDA data shows there were more acres in CRP in Iowa in 2012 than before the first dry-mill ethanol plant began operation.

Not to mention, the 2008 Farm Bill removed funding for roughly 7 million acres of CRP land, so it is legally impossible to get back to pre-2008 levels of CRP enrollment.

The AP also conveniently “forgot” to mention that enrollment in other conservation programs like the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) are at an all time high.

The AP also attempted to claim that high corn prices due to ethanol production are driving Wayne County farmers to plant more corn than ever before. Meanwhile, the facts show that the night before the AP story was officially published, corn prices closed at $4.34 per bushel, and on December 19, 2007, when then-president George W. Bush signed the RFS2 into law, corn was priced at $4.34 — the exact same price.

Moreover, Wayne County farmers planted 30,000 less acres of corn in 2013 than they did in 1985, years before the ethanol boom. In addition, statewide USDA data shows Iowans have consistently planted fewer acres to all crops during the ethanol boom than before the first dry mill ethanol plant began operations in 2001.

I could go on, as it is quite evident that the AP ignored these very elementary facts in an effort to smear ethanol.

Nevertheless, one of the most egregious offenses in this story is that the AP misled the residents of Wayne County on the intent of their article in order to cherry-pick half sentence quotes to meet their hidden anti-ethanol agenda.

Bill Alley, the Wayne County Supervisor quoted in the story told the IRFA, “They went a different direction than we [were] led to believe they were going in…To me as I read through this, it was a personal attack on ethanol…Some oil company got a hold of these people and said, you know, let’s hammer ethanol.”

The Wayne County farmer and retired Methodist pastor quoted in the story, Leroy Perkins, told the IRFA, “My understanding was they were going to touch on the water issues with our Rathbun Lake watershed, but they were leaning more in Wayne County to the absentee landlords that are out of state…Not once was I led to believe they were going to do a wham-bang on ethanol…And so as I read this, I’m wondering, I’m looking at it saying, where are the oil companies in this?”

T.J. Page

Communications Director

Iowa Renewable Fuels Assoc.

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