The Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association gave away $1,000 in groceries and $500 in ethanol on June 5 at a public "Magic Show" at noon at Nollen Plaza in downtown Des Moines. Grocery manufacturers and the petroleum industry are blaming the rising cost of food on the use of corn to make ethanol. However, representatives of the Iowa Corn Growers and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association say that's a false accusation.
"Considering both food and fuel, ethanol use saves the typical family $1,000 a year," says Monte Shaw, chief executive of IRFA. He stood next to a placard in front of the gathering of people and explained the data. He says the giveaways were held "to expose Big Oil's Black Magic trickery on gasoline, ethanol, food and the family budget."
Public magic show attracts a crowd
By treating the public to a free public magic show, IRFA and ICPB exposed the truth behind Big Oil's Black Magic distortions of ethanol and food prices, says Craig Floss, chief executive of the corn growers association. When taking into account ethanol's impact on food and fuel prices, the best expert data spells out that the typical family of four saves $1,000 per year because of ethanol.
Some people in Congress are calling for a rollback of the federal ethanol mandate. Citing authoritative sources such as the U.S. Energy Information Agency, USDA and the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors, the IRFA and ICGA officials showed that if ethanol use were rolled back as critics demand, the massive increase in gasoline prices would far exceed a very minimal savings on groceries. The net result would be that a typical family of four would lose $1,000 of spending power from their budget.
The skyrocketing price of petroleum is what is driving up food costs; it is not ethanol doing that, says Shaw. "Big Oil wants to roll back ethanol use under the guise of saving money in a family's food bill. But when you cut back on ethanol use, you see gas prices skyrocket. Rolling back ethanol use doesn't save a typical family in grocery costs. In reality, it would shift roughly $1,000 from their pocketbook to windfall oil profits and higher gasoline prices."
Floss adds, "Corn growers in Iowa today are supplying enough corn for all our markets. When you put a bowl of corn flakes in front of your kids, what the farmer gets for that corn is less than a penny. In fact, once Kellogg gets a cereal box printed, the box can cost more than the corn inside it. Corn is not a major factor in driving up your grocery bill, but energy is. Oil has gone from $50 a barrel 18 months ago to $130 a barrel today and that skyrocketing increase in the price of petroleum affects everything."