Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, penned a scathing op-ed last week on the American Meat Institute’s “Scorched Earth Campaign” against ethanol. Tolman was particularly incensed that AMI “signed onto political letters and advertisements with environmental extremists like Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group” in criticizing corn-based ethanol. Fraternizing with such organizations is an unpardonable sin in his eyes (and few of us would argue this point) because these “three organizations have all attacked animal agriculture with the same level of rhetoric as PETA or the Humane Society.”
Rick Tolman is absolutely correct that groups like Friends of the Earth and EWG have much in common with PETA and HSUS. In fact, I may have lined out a near-perfect analogy there: PETA is to HSUS what Friends of the Earth is to EWG. One group uses scandalous advertising for shock value, the other is working on leasing your Congressman.
The problem with Rick’s indignation toward AMI is that just a few weeks prior, our friends at the Ohio Corn Growers Association joined a group known as Avoided Deforestation Partners in an ad campaign to “save the rain-forests” in South America (I’m paraphrasing, obviously). Former OCGA and NCGA President Fred Yoder shared with me that some of his pals from his NCGA officer days had given him no small amount of grief for the seemingly unlikely alliance. Given the presence of several Environmental Defense Group honchos on the ADP list of “founders and partners,” the recalcitrance about working with them is understandable.
While I haven’t asked Tolman, and hadn’t read his piece when I spoke to Yoder about the OCGA/ADP ads, I’m curious to know what Rick thinks about one of his top state affiliates partnering with groups who have, to put it lightly, been fairly unkind to corn-based ethanol over the years for the questionable principle of “indirect land-use change.” It may not be a scorched-earth strategy, but it’s interesting bedfellows, nonetheless.