Ethanol Interests Blast AP Report

Ethanol groups say Associated Press reporters twisted the truth in a national news report

Published on: Nov 13, 2013

NCGA President Martin Barbre added in a statement that the story appeared to be based on a "misunderstanding of modern agriculture generally and the Conservation Reserve Program specifically."

Barbre noted that the title of the story – " The secret, dirty cost of Obama's green power push" – suggests that there are secrets in how land is used.

"There are no secrets in how land is used, as (AP's) own reporting shows. Acres are tracked, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees a high level of transparency. No, these watch words ‘secret’ and ‘dirty’ show clearly that the reporters were sensationalizing the issue to a high degree, which is conduct unbecoming a true journalist," Barbre said.

Industry comments also questioned the AP's failure to consider the use of ethanol production by-products, such as dried distillers grain, for livestock feed. And, IRFA said, sources in the story were misled to believe that the story was to focus on watershed issues and absentee landowners.

IFRA's Executive Director Monte Shaw also questioned small story details, like a reference the report authors made to postcards with pictures of cows on rolling pasture at the Corydon pharmacy.

"I’d also love for the AP to produce a postcard of ‘rolling cow pastures shown in postcards sold at a Corydon pharmacy.’  We went to the Corydon pharmacy and … found no postcards that featured ‘rolling cow pastures’ depicted so emotionally in the AP story," Shaw said. "Based on all the other fallacies in the story, I’m left to wonder if the reporters just made it up."

AP issues its own comment

Following the formal release of the report, AP on Tuesday issued a second story regarding the ethanol industry's comments, and Wednesday provided a photo of postcards found in the Corydon Pharmacy to rebut Shaw's accusation.

Ethanol Interests Blast AP Report

Postcards AP says were found at the Corydon Pharmacy. (AP Photo)

Tuesday's follow-up story quoted AP vice president and senior managing editor, Mike Oreskes, who said the report itself was a result of '"months of work and review of documents, and interviews of experts and people on all sides of the public policy debate about this energy resource,"' and, '"We stand behind our reporting and welcome further insights and discussion."'

The story also pointed out that the "economic stakes for the industry are significant" as Congress works on legislation to eliminate the renewable fuel standard – a mandate that dictates a certain amount of ethanol must be blended into the fuel supply.

Meanwhile, EPA is expected to hand down a decision on 2014 RFS volumes as early as this week as the discussion about the industry's future remains heated.