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AMI, RFA spar over ad on higher ethanol blends

An American Meat Institute (AMI) advertisement opposing any increase in ethanol blend levels has drawn a sharp response from a major ethanol industry group.

AMI used the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call to run a full-page ad entitled “E15?  Bad for Consumers, Bad for the Environment, Bad for Rural Communities”.  The ad urges opposition to any action that would increase the percentage of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent. 

Dave Ray is vice-president of public affairs for AMI. “What AMI is concerned with is the premise that we can take a significant portion of our food, and instead of feeding people and animals with it, put it in our gas tanks and burn it,” says Ray.

That brought this response from Bob Dineen of the Renewable Fuels Association: “I think that the Meat Institute’s concerns are overblown.  I think that the hysteria that they have tried to create about food versus fuel has really been demonstrated by the experience of the past year and a half to be completely unfounded.”

However, Ray of AMI contends corn ethanol has indeed caused higher food prices—and he says it’s been bad for rural communities because it’s harming livestock farmers and meat processors.

“When you create a new market for a major input, and basically double or triple the price of the major input for them, then you are going to have devastating impacts on very important jobs and people who are trying to make a living in these rural areas,” Ray says.

The AMI ad also states that corn ethanol is bad for the environment and warns that producing more corn ethanol could ”destroy millions of acres of forests”.

Brownfield’s Julie Harker contributed to this story.

AUDIO: Dave Ray (10 min MP3)

AUDIO: Bob Dineen (2 min MP3)

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