Curiouser and Curiouser
I listened to Nicholas Hollis of the Agribusiness Council utterly dismissing ethanol as a fossil fuel replacement during a locally broadcast "I hate taxes" radio show. Hollis claimed that ethanol ranks as the number one fraud of all time -- hooking both farmers and consumers in a subsidy windfall, and that furthermore, the use of ethanol would not reduce our energy independence in any significant way. Of course, as the talk show's host hates subsidies as part of his genetic makeup, he lapped up most of Hollis's arguments.
However, the motives of Hollis and his Agribusiness Council puzzle me. From their website, they state:
Initiated under Federal government auspices by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, The Agribusiness Council was formed by a group of business, academic, foundation and government leaders in order to facilitate American agribusiness participation in agricultural trade and development programs with developing countries - and represent private-sector agriculture interests to Federal government decision-makers.So, clearly a group with the interests of the American farmer at heart. Right? Perhaps at one time, but they do not appear to support anything related to grain-derived ethanol production, not even as a research topic. This stance I find really curious because farmers and big corporate interests such as Archer Daniels Midland have nothing to lose and everything to gain if they at least give lip service to investigate the potential of ethanol. (Hollis also expressed very negative opinions about ADM).
So what exactly comprises the Agribusiness Council's agenda? I can make a guess by browsing through their website. Again, very curiously, they have displayed rather prominently descriptions of trade negotiations they have coordinated with the Baltic nation of Lithuania (coincidentally, G.W. Bush just finished visiting the leaders of the Baltic states in Riga, Latvia). Elsewhere on the web site, the Agribusiness Council provides clues to an alternate agenda:
International LinkagesSo, as energy has seemingly supplanted agriculture as the council's platform (Lithuania is not the agricultural powerhouse they exaggeratingly claim), I will go out on a sturdy limb and say that they have other interests in mind.
To strengthen its international outreach, The Agribusiness Council in 1987 allied itself with the Agri-Energy Roundtable - a multilateral organization accredited by the United Nations to strengthen the cooperative ties between Third World and industrialized nations in the areas of agriculture and energy-related trade and development programs. Through the Roundtable's worldwide "association" network, regional programming, and annual meeting - The International Agricultural Forum, members are able to exchange ideas with a wide array of corporate executives, government and international donor agency officials, as well as access the Roundtable's international membership body.
Another Baltic country, Estonia, has significant oil shale and technology to match, as I blogged earlier. Actually, the oil shale belt stretches through the Baltic states.
So, might this anti-ethanol crusade actually have something to do with oil shale, as the Agribusiness Council surreptitiously lobbies for petro-mining interests in the USA? In a fight of the behemoths, any mining conglomerate would certainly match ADM pound for pound.
Having a moniker that claims to support agriculture doesn't necessarily make it so; just ask these anti-environmental groups:"The Abundant Wildlife Society of North America", "Wise Use", "Citizens for the Environment", and "National Wetlands Coalition".
Update: Added link to Hollis's fraud assertion.