Corn Growers "Call to Action" to Defend RFS

ICGA urges farmers to contact members of Congress in show of support for renewable fuel standard.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association is asking its members to call or write to Iowa's federal and state lawmakers and urge the elected representatives in Congress and in the Iowa legislature to support both the state and federal Renewable Fuel Standards.

"Iowa's federal and state lawmakers have consistently demonstrated support for the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board by voting for aggressive Renewable Fuel Standards, or RFS, at both the state and federal levels," says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, government affairs director for the two Iowa Corn grower groups.

"Now as the media and ethanol critics have demonized corn ethanol and attempted to solely blame higher commodity costs and government policies promoting renewable fuel on rising food costs, Congress is considering a repeal of the RFS," she notes. "Iowa lawmakers need to know that Iowans are still behind them in their decisions to continue to support established federal and state standards."

Corn unfairly blamed for food cost rise

Farmers, in particular corn growers, are receiving a lot of flack in the media about the rising price of food being connected to the rising price of corn the grower gets at the farm gate. "We want to remind our members that it's time to stand up for your industry, whether it's about legislation or food vs. fuel issues," says Tim Recker, president of ICGA and a grower from Arlington in northeast Iowa. "We also want to remind consumers that the increases in cost of food have to do more with the price of crude oil, cost of labor and cost of transportation."

For example, there's only 11 cents of corn in a box of cornflakes, says Recker, and 13 cents worth of corn in a gallon of milk. The cost of crude oil has more to do with the rising cost of food than ethanol or the biofuels industry. For more information, visit www.iowacorn.org.

26 U.S. Senators request RFS waiver

Last week, 26 U.S. Senators supported a request by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to waive half of the federal renewable fuels standard for 2008 for corn-based ethanol.

The letter sent by the senators to EPA administrator Steven Johnson places blame for food price inflation on the ethanol industry and related government incentives. Signatures included Republicans from noncorn producing states, including presidential candidate John McCain.

Iowa's two U.S. Senators reject idea

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat who chairs the U.S. Senate Ag Committee, responded to the letter sent by the 26 Republican Senators. Harkin called on EPA to maintain the current RFS. "There's no question that rising food prices are turning into a global concern," says Harkin. "But the call for EPA to halt growth in U.S. ethanol use and cut short the promise of biofuels for our nation's energy security is without merit."
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican, also responded to the letter sent by his 26 Senate comrades to EPA. Like Harkin, Grassley similarly rejects the call for an RFS waiver.

Also last week, National Corn Growers Association President Rick Tolman testified on Capitol Hill in front of the House Energy & Air Quality Subcommittee on this same topic, pointing out the folly in trying to blame corn prices for rising food prices, when the skyrocketing price of crude oil has more to do with it than anything else.

ICGA is asking Iowa farmers to contact members of Congress with the following message: "THANK YOU for including an increased Renewable Fuels Standard in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Please STAY THE COURSE by supporting full implementation of this new law."

You may reach your representative and senators by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121 or directly at the phone and e-mails listed below:

Senator Charles Grassley
Phone: 202-224-3744
E-mail page: grassley.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.Home 

Senator Tom Harkin
Phone: 202-224-3254
E-mail page: harkin.senate.gov/contact/contact.cfm

Representative Leonard Boswell
Phone: 202-225-3806
E-mail: rep.boswell.ia03@mail.house.gov  

Representative Bruce Braley
Phone: 202-225-2911
E-mail page: www.braley.house.gov/zipauth.html  

Representative David Loebsack
Phone: 202-225-6576
E-mail Web form: www.loebsack.house.gov/contactform/  

Representative Steve King
Phone: 202-225-4426
E-mail: steve.king@mail.house.gov  

Representative Tom Latham
Phone: 202-225-5476
E-mail: tom.latham@mail.house.gov  

ICGA is also asking corn growers to contact state legislators with a similar message: THANK YOU for supporting Iowa's 2006 Renewable Fuels Standard law and the 2008 Biofuels Infrastructure bill which continues to support the aggressive schedule set by the Iowa RFS. Please STAY THE COURSE by fully implementing and supporting Iowa's RFS schedule.

You can get phone numbers and e-mail addresses for your state senators and representatives by looking them up on www.legis.state.ia.us.

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