While America's pork producers wage a new marketing campaign, their rural ethanol-producing counterparts have a growing public relations kerfuffle.
Critics have labeled the nation's predominant home-grown fuel as a catalyst in escalating grain prices which THEY argue contribute to food riots worldwide. Ethanol proponents have refuted those accusations in light of $100 oil siphoning profit margins and raising the costs for everything from operating a farmer's combine to producing plastic food containers.
For many, it's a flashback to 2008 – when food prices grew across the globe. A similar disproportionate economic squeeze on citizens in third world countries is now building. And according to various global aid groups, it could get worse.
Global food prices are the highest in 20 years and the United Nations warns they could go even higher. The spike is blamed on rising oil prices stemming from the unrest in Libya and the Middle East.
Echoing previous statements, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said last month that, "Food prices are at dangerous levels."
The Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, reported its food price index was up 2.2 percent last month. That marked the eighth consecutive month that food prices have risen, and they're now at their highest level since January 1990 when the agency started monitoring prices.
News of soaring food prices comes on the heels of crude oil trading above $100 a barrel. Nearby crude oil futures prices settled above the century mark Tuesday for the first time in three years.
Wheat prices soared in February on U.S. commodities exchanges, but have since fallen back to January levels. But, corn prices continue to climb, rising nearly 33 percent since December. Meanwhile, soybean prices have fallen slightly after steadily increasing since December.
Cereal prices rose 3.7 percent over January averages, while meat and dairy prices expanded by 2 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
FAO officials say the world can expect further price increases if oil prices continue to rise.