U.S. Sen. Grassley urges GMA members to protest campaign

By Kris Bevill | May 09, 2008
Web exclusive posted May 21, 2008 at 3:40 p.m. CST

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who made public the Grocery Manufacturers Association's public relations campaign to defeat ethanol last week, is now urging members of the association to protest the smear campaign.

In a release published by his office May 19, Grassley called on major manufacturers in Iowa to take a stand. "I'm calling on companies who are members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association to protest the trade association's target and tactics," he said. "Every employee of these member companies can join in. We've got to speak truth to power and fight back against this smear campaign."

Grassley sent a letter to association member companies that operate in Iowa. A few companies that are well known in the biofuels industry were included on Grassley's GMA member list, including Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill and ConAgra Foods.

Grassley has been an out-spoken proponent of ethanol and the biofuels industry for the past 30 years. Ethanol Producer Magazine reported May 16 on the release of GMA's public relations campaign documents by Sen. Grassley.

Here is the text of Sen. Grassley's letter to GMA members operating in Iowa:

May 19, 2008

Dear __________________,

For nearly thirty years, our nation has pursued policies to promote the development and use of domestic, renewable fuels. We've promoted renewable biofuels as a way to lesson our dependence on foreign oil and to improve air quality. During this time, the biofuels movement enjoyed overwhelming support. Now, an anti-ethanol smear campaign led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association is blaming U.S. biofuels policies for the rising cost of food and global food shortages.

As a company with significant operations and employees in Iowa, surely you are well aware of the cooperative effort among all partners in the food supply chain to produce a safe, abundant food supply. Iowa's farmers and agricultural industries have long filled the breadbasket that feeds our nation and the world. This has always been a strong cooperative effort between family farmers, livestock growers, food processors, manufacturers and marketers.

As a family farmer and a long-time partner in the production of our nation's food supply, I am personally disappointed and offended by the public relations smear campaign that the food processors and member companies of the Grocery Manufacturers Association are now spearheading. I hope you'll recognize that this smear campaign against biofuels is unfounded, irresponsible and pits traditional allies and partners in food production against one another.

The propaganda being used by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and its high-paid lobbying firms in Washington, D.C., is patently false and should be disavowed. Administration officials with the Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the President's Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers have all determined that the production of biofuels has had only a small impact on the rise in retail food prices domestically and globally. The facts prove that the rising cost of energy, worldwide economic growth, global weather problems, rising marketing costs, and the weak U.S. dollar all have a far greater impact on rising food prices than biofuels.

All Iowans, my constituents and your employees, deserve an honest, fair discussion of the issues surrounding the rising cost of food. This smear campaign led by an organization of which you are listed as a member is harmful to an honest discussion and should be abandoned. I therefore strongly encourage you to call on the leadership of the Grocery Manufacturers Association to end this misleading campaign that is undermining and denigrating the patriotic achievements of American farmers to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while also providing a safe, abundant and reliable food supply.

Thank you for your timely consideration of this request and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator