WASHINGTON – Growth Energy today released a new ad echoing recent comments made by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Edward T. Schafer about the Grocery Manufacturers Association's (GMA) deceptive campaign blaming ethanol for higher food prices. The ad will run in today's edition of Roll Call. The ad can be viewed at GrowthEnergy.org.

In a recent interview, Secretary Schafer responded to a reporter's question about GMA's campaign in light of falling commodity prices and said that GMA had “no credibility” and added, “I just think that they are totally off base. They are building positions that I don't understand. And they're trying to justify the increased costs and the increased profits that they're making at the expense of another industry. That just isn't appropriate.” The audio of the interview is available here. The full transcript of Sec. Schafer's remarks is below.

Growth Energy has been calling on GMA to end its false attacks against ethanol or lower the price of food for consumers. Two weeks ago, Growth Energy launched a countdown clock to track the hours and days elapsed since the group called on Big Food to lower prices for consumers at the grocery store.

Growth Energy's call to action comes as the cost of food has increased 7.6 percent in the past year and has continued to rise while the cost of corn has dropped 50 percent and oil prices have dropped significantly. Large food companies are seeing profit growth from these higher prices. For example, Kraft's revenues increased nearly 20 percent from the year-earlier period and saw net income shoot up in the third quarter to $1.4 billion. Sales at Kellogg's climbed 9.5 percent and third-quarter net income increased to $342 million, up from $305 million the year earlier.

Transcript of Secretary Schafer's Interview
November 19, 2008

Reporter: Mr. Secretary, I wanted to get your — you mentioned GMA during your talk and said they might be the only people that are trying to get us not to move forward. [They] had a press conference yesterday, at least some of those groups. What's your reaction to some of the things they said? They want to do away with all ethanol mandates. And the other thing they said was that it could take as much as two years for the lower corn prices that supposedly impacted food prices earlier this year and drove prices up. They said it could take 18-24 months for that to work its way through the system and have our food prices lower. What's your reaction?

Secretary Schafer: Well, I think they stood up there with no credibility whatsoever. I mean, the reality is they kicked the new kid on the block, ethanol, you know, around – they kicked the new kid on the block around the block. You know, saying that, “Oh man, all the stuff that is going on is increasing our prices. There is nothing we can do about it. It's not our fault.” And then, you know, when prices go down dramatically over a short period of time they say, “You know, it takes us so long to adjust.” I just think that they are totally off base. They are building positions that I don't understand. And they're trying to justify the increased costs and the increased profits that they're making at the expense of another industry. That just isn't appropriate.

And importantly, they are working against important public policy in this country of energy independence. Why would they be against energy independence? They're working against increased economic activity. Why would they be against economic activity? The very people that are making money are buying their grocery products. Why are they trying to shut that down? They're trying to justify their corporate policy in increasing costs to the consumer by blaming it on somebody else. That's just simply wrong. In the end, [they] will deserve what comes, which likely is going to be lower purchases of their products cause of their increased prices.

About Growth Energy

Growth Energy is a group committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America's economy through cleaner, greener energy. Growth Energy members recognize America needs a new ethanol approach. Through smart policy reform and a proactive grassroots campaign, Growth Energy promotes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding the use of ethanol in gasoline, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating American jobs at home. More information can be found at GrowthEnergy.org.

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