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Enlarging the bullseye on our back

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By Holly Martin

Less than 2 percent of Americans are involved in farming and ranching. Fewer and fewer people have direct ties to the farm. The agriculture industry struggles with increased regulation and an activist movement like no other.

And yet, we as an industry continue to fight amongst ourselves. How can that be good? The answer is: It can’t be good. And it needs to stop.

Case in point is a recent exchange between a group called Smarter Fuel Future and the National Corn Growers Association. Smarter Fuel Future is supported by a number of groups in the automotive industry but also several agricultural groups including the American Meat Institute and various dairy and chicken groups.

The exchange is recent, but the subject is old. One side wants to see continued or even increased support of the ethanol industry. The other wants to see the end of the ethanol industry altogether.

This recent exchange was started by a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency in support of the reduction of Renewable Fuels Standard by various groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council and National Pork Producers Council.

In response, NCGA President Martin Barbre was extremely critical of the letter’s quoted statistics. He calls those who oppose ethanol “whiners” and claims they would like their corn for free. He goes on to quote an article by “agricultural writer” Chris Leonard in Slate magazine, who is anything but unbiased in his writing about the meat industry.

On the other hand, the Smarter Fuel Future website claims that ethanol damages everything from engines to the planet.

For the agriculture industry for some reason, ethanol is the fight that won’t die. Frankly, neither side can see clearly on this issue.

And yes, I know why. Ethanol has played a profound effect on the grain markets. If it didn’t, the fight would have died. But at this point, can’t we at least agree to fight fair? I’m not saying there isn’t a place for a sound discussion of issues within different segments of the industry. But calling names and twisting words isn’t productive for anyone.

There are groups who have set their sights on destroying American agriculture. They would love to sit back and watch us implode from within.

If we keep fighting among ourselves, that seems a likely scenario. We have a big enough bullseye on our back, without enlarging it ourselves.

Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 1-800-452-7171, ext. 1806, or by email at hmartin@hpj.com.

Date: 4/7/2014



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