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BREAKING NEWS.Associated Press Planning massive Anti Ethanol Campaign

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For years, corn ethanol has been a centerpiece of America's green energy strategy. President Barack Obama and his administration have described this homegrown fuel as a way to reduce greenhouse gases and to wean the country from foreign sources of oil. But the ethanol era has proved far more damaging to the environment than the government has acknowledged. As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they touched off a cascade of unintended consequences, including wiping out millions of acres of conservation land, polluting water and destroying habitat.



An AP investigation into the hidden, dirty cost of this green energy source moved in advance on Monday, Nov. 4, for use in print and online at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 12.



—Text: The package includes a main piece of 4,000 words, an optional version of 2,900 words, an abridged version of 1,300 words and additional elements that include key takeaways, a timeline, Q&A and a list of top ethanol-producing counties with serious environmental consequences. State-specific versions of both the full and abridged stories will move on Corn Belt state wires, including Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana and others.



—Photos: An edited selection of the 23 photos moved in advance on PhotoStream with online points outed. That same set will move again on the release date to PhotoStream and include online points. All 23 images will be placed on the AP Images site on the release date.



—Graphic: A static graphic showing the increase in corn planting and the decrease in conservation land during the ethanol boom, plus a schematic showing the process of making fuel from corn.



—Video: Newsroom Ready (broadcast) video will be released in advance to customers of APTN, AP Video-US and AP Video Hub at 11 a.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 7, embargoed for use until 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Consumer Ready (online) video will be released at 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 12. For clarity, all video for all customers is embargoed from public display until 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 12.



—Audio: Audio cuts will go out to clients at 11:10 a.m. EST post newscast, embargoed for use until 12:01 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 12.



—Interactive: An interactive map of the Corn Belt, showing county-by-county changes to both corn planting and conservation land, is available to interactive subscribers.



—Data: The AP is making available two Excel spreadsheets showing county-by-county changes in corn planting and conservation. The data can be downloaded here: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/downloads/spreadsheets/corn.xlsx and http://hosted.ap.org/specials/downloads/spreadsheets/conservation.xlsx . Newsrooms with questions about accessing or analyzing the data can contact two of the project's authors, Matt Apuzzo or Jack Gillum, for assistance. Apuzzo can be reached at 202-641-9439 or mapuzzo@ap.org, and Gillum can be reached at 202-641-9448 or jgillum@ap.org.



—On-camera or telephone interviews: AP reporters are available for interviews with AP members or customers about their findings, as long as these interviews are not aired prior to 12:01 a.m. EST on Nov. 12. Interview requests should be coordinated through Paul Colford or Erin Madigan White in AP's Corporate Communications office. Colford can be reached at 212-621-1895, and Madigan White can be reached at 212-621-7005 or by email at info@ap.org. Please include "Attention: Media Relations" or "Interview Request" on the email subject line.



—Plan for follow-up stories: The first will show how, despite government promises to the contrary, the ethanol boom has encouraged farmers to plow over wild prairieland in the Great Plains, some of the most environmentally sensitive terrain in the country.



Questions: Logistics or sales questions can be directed to Sarah Nordgren, 212-621-1766, or SNordgren@ap.org. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477. Editorial questions can be directed to the Nerve Center, 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600).



The AP

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I have to admit that I started farming some land that was in CRP for quite a few years. Seems not too long ago people were complaining about farmers getting paid to take land out of production---CRP. I guess you can't win for losing.

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sort of reminds me of how just a decade ago...  US farmers were being vilified for overproducing corn, driving the price of corn down, and underselling Mexican local farmers... causing many of them to go out of business... families starving.


Last year when corn prices spiked...  US farmers were being vilified for their support of the ethanol industry that was driving up the price of corn, causing food prices to spike, leading to families unable to buy food, death and destruction...


So WHAT do they want?  Cheep corn or expensive corn?  Either way WE (USA) are the problem.

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Got a point Cessna, didn't those subsidies get voted out of this year's farm bill too?

CRP is still an option as far as I know. I'm not sure, but Direct Payments might go away----for me that amounted to about $20 per acre. My landlord and many others in the area are leasing land to Mid American Energy for wind turbines----that'll be good for about $100 per acre per year so will help with the reduced corn profits.

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I see- the AP (or is it the Associated Press International now) has become the mouthpiece for the API (American Petroleum Institute). Never underestimate the power of oil to gain the press they want.


My father always stated- they people only want cheap food- so do not expect profits to ever last more than a couple of years in farming. People do not understand farming, nor byproducts of ethanol production, and thus buy into the food/fuel crap. The city dwellers also could give a hoot about the resurgence of rural economies and the recent recovery from agriculture's downward spiral.


This AP campaign does not surprise me at all- I am only left to wonder the exact track this money and influence flows.


As far as pollution- I would love to see real proof the Gulf deadzone has grown and if so- unrelated to reduced flows from drought? In the past they would bring it up and the story would die because it was shrinking or at minimum stable. Because they are not really talking it up and providing multiple documented studies you can bet it is not happening. I'll bet the only thing they can point to is the East coast/Delaware problem which is more related to population and animal agriculture (note it is not corn belt).

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East coast/Delaware problem which is more related to population and animal agriculture (note it is not corn belt).


When it comes to the "Chesapeake Bay"  dead zone and algae blooms...  another factor (mostly as you mentioned the concentrations of hog/chicken/dairy producers in a small area) is the RAPID growth of urban/suburban sprawl in the DC/Northern Virginia region (corresponding to the rapid acceleration of the growth of the federal government the last decade+... but that is another topic better suited to a different thread...).


Suburban lawns are one of the most OVER fertilized and OVER watered ways to use land.  Look at all the fertilizer that falls on sidewalks, streets, driveways... and gets washed down gutters to storm sewers...


If a farmer was applying THIS amount of nutrients and water to his farm (first of all, he couldn't afford that wasteful volume of inputs) he would be shut down by the EPA in a heartbeat...


This is more of a liberal volvo driving suburban soccer mom problem then it is a conservative F150 driving rural farmer problem...


Farmers are finding out how to put on less and less fertilizer (reduce costs), and are using more and more conservation practices... not out of a mandate or a law, but because they are stewards of their land, and want it to be in better shape when they pass it on to the next generation.  Not to mention that it is bad business to be wasteful and to over use inputs that cost money...


It irks my hide to see the "low information crowd" simply repeating propaganda they were fed with out any independent thought.  These "sheeple" are so easily led.  You would just like to hope that some day they could trade their wolves in for a group of benevolent shepherds...  most people these days just simply aren't capable of thinking...  unless they could download an "independent thought" ap for their phone...

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Got the full article, courtesy of the folks at MN Corn Growers:


Associated Press story plows under the facts about ethanol


The Associated Press story on ethanol is more dumpster fire than journalism.


Do you enjoy writing filled with hyperbole? How about “reporting” that cites long-dispelled myths as fact and uses professional talking heads as sources? Is lazy journalism that aims to manufacture controversy (think Skip Bayless at ESPN or one of the many loudmouths that pollute the talk radio airwaves) your thing?


Then an upcoming story from the Associated Press (AP) about so-called “dirty” ethanol is right up your alley. The story is embargoed until Nov. 12, but has already appeared in various corners of the internet so we decided to post it here today, before the rest of the world sees it sometime on Tuesday.


But hold on a minute. Before you scroll down further and get your salacious journalism fix, let us give you a taste of what this story would look like if its authors dealt in facts instead of half-truths; if their aim was to actually inform readers instead of troll for cheap web clicks and re-tweets.


In other words, let us warn you about a few of the many outrageous claims about “dirty” ethanol, farmers and renewable fuels that are made in the story, and set the record straight.


AP claim: “Five million acres of land set aside for conservation…have vanished on Obama’s watch. Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.”


Whew, we warned you about the hyperbole.


First, farmers are not filling in wetlands. Acreage enrolled in USDA’s Wetlands Reserve Program hit a record 2.65 million acres in 2012. That land is enrolled permanently, or for a period of 30 years. Farmers can’t just wake up one day and decide to fill it in.


Second, acres in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program have declined, but a big reason for the decline is because the cap on CRP acres fell from 39 to 32 million acres as a result of the 2008 farm bill. CRP lands were always intended to remain available to be farmed if market conditions warranted. It is perfectly reasonable to grow crops on good farmland, and save the more highly erodible land and fields near waterways for CRP enrollment.


Third, those “pristine prairies” remain pristine. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, no new grassland has been converted to cropland since 2005. Most native grasslands are also protected under “sodbuster” and “swampbuster” provisions of the farm bill. In Minnesota, a recent DNR report shows an increase in wetland acreage.


Finally, farmers participate in a variety of conservation efforts. Minnesota farmers lead the nation with more than 2 million acres enrolled in USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program. Minnesota’s corn farmers also invest more than $2 million annually in research that seeks to improve conversation efforts and farming practices.


AP Claim: “Historically, the overwhelmingly majority of corn in the United States has been turned into livestock feed. But in 2010, for the first time, fuel was the No. 1 use for corn in America. That’s been true every year since.”


This claim is a doozy. Actually, it’s just plain wrong.


Livestock feed remains the No. 1 market for U.S. corn. Period.


What the AP authors aren’t telling you (presumably they know this, but maybe not) is that for every 56-pound bushel of corn that is made into 2.8 gallons of ethanol, 17 pounds — about one-third — is returned as a high-protein animal feed. This is what corn farmers mean when they talk about growing food, fiber, and fuel. Enough corn is grown to support all three (with plenty left over to export to other countries). We don’t have to pick just one.


If the AP reporters were honest, they would have acknowledged that when you factor in co-products, livestock feed — not fuel — remains the top use for corn by a wide margin.


AP Claim: “Before the government ethanol mandate, the Conservation Reserve Program grew every year for nearly a decade.”


Actually, it didn’t. CRP enrollment fell in five consecutive years from 1994-99. Oh, those pesky facts…


AP Claim: “But using government satellite data — the best tool available — the AP identified a  conservative estimate of 1.2 million acres of virgin land in Nebraska and the Dakotas alone that have been converted to fields of corn and soybeans since 2006, the last year before the ethanol mandate was passed.”


The reporters don’t bother to tell us what “government satellite data” was used or how “virgin land” was identified. Government agencies like USDA don’t use satellite data often for regulatory or enforcement purposes because it contains a high degree of error.


If you want to know what’s happening on cropland in Nebraska and the Dakotas, referring to a satellite hovering around in outer space isn’t the best method. Instead, you want to use on-the-ground data.


If the AP reporters paid attention to what was happening on the ground, they would have learned that yes, 2013 corn acres in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and the Dakotas are up over 9 million compared to the five-year average from 2000-04. However, acres dedicated to other crops fell by more than 11 million — meaning the increases in corn acres was more than offset by the decrease in other crops, not from planting corn on “virgin land.”


AP Claim: “Between 2005 and 2010, corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer by more than one billion pounds. More recent data isn’t available from the Agriculture Department, but because of the huge increase in corn planting, even conservative projections by the AP suggest another billion-pound fertilizer increase on corn farms since

In the first year after the ethanol mandate, more than 2 million acres disappeared.


Since Obama took office, 5 million more acres have vanished.


Agriculture officials acknowledge that conservation land has been lost, but they say the trend is reversing. When the 2013 data comes out, they say it will show that as corn prices stabilized, farmers once again began setting aside land for conservation.


So the ethanol policy cruises on autopilot.



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