The Big Ethanol Bullies Are Stealing Your Lunch Money

February 20, 2015

Have you noticed that the cost of beef, chicken, eggs and milk (and pretty much anything you find in the grocery aisle) has been on the rise? Ever wonder why? Follow the money and you’ll discover that there is a special interest group made up of around 73,000 Iowans—or .02% of the U.S. population—raking in billions of dollars each year while driving up food costs for American consumers.

For more than a decade, the powerful and well-funded special interest group known as “Big Ethanol” has flexed its political muscle to divert the harvest from America’s Corn Belt—a region that used to be known as “The World’s Breadbasket”—from our dinner plates and into our gas tanks. This market disruption has dramatically driven up the cost of corn for everyone—way up. And since corn is a staple in livestock feed, and corn-based ingredients are used in 75 percent of all grocery products, it’s had a ripple effect in your supermarket making most everything you like to eat cost more.

So how does Big Ethanol get away with it? It’s called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a mandate signed into law more than a decade ago that requires billions of gallons of Big Ethanol’s product—corn ethanol—be blended into our gas, whether we like it or not.

While Big Ethanol has been soaking up billions in profits, the average American family of four saw a $2,055 increase to their food bill in 2012. And because the federally-mandated quotas for ethanol production grow each year, your food bill is expected to keep growing, too. By 2022, it is estimated that the RFS will increase food costs for Americans by $3 billion—annually—if the policy isn’t reformed.

When well-intentioned policymakers created the RFS, they didn’t imagine the devastating impact it would have, making life tougher for Americans already squeezed by a recession. But today those impacts are clear and a diverse and growing coalition of people: anti-hunger advocates, consumer advocates, environmentalists, thoughtful policymakers and more, are rightfully calling for reform or repeal of this disastrous policy mistake.

So who is fighting to ensure this catastrophic mandate doesn’t get reformed? Who is spending millions upon millions of dollars ensuring that your food bill continues to rise higher year-after-year?

You guessed it: the Big Ethanol bullies. In fact, they’ve recently launched a multi-million dollar campaign designed to galvanize the very few people who profit from this mandate into “shaming” those who would dare challenge the policy that puts their special interest ahead of Americans writ large.

Should the 73,000 Iowans who profit from turning your food into fuel be allowed to bully the rest of us? We don't allow bullying in school, so why are we letting .02% of the population steal our lunch money? It’s time to end the ethanol gravy train by telling Congress to take action to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard.