AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry's request for a waiver of federal corn-based ethanol production mandates was prompted by a March meeting he had with East Texas poultry producer Lonnie "Bo" Pilgrim, who six days later gave $100,000 to the Republican Governors Association chaired by Perry.
In the three weeks following that donation, Perry's staff began preparing to submit the renewable fuel standards waiver request to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, according to 596 pages of records obtained from the governor's office by the Houston Chronicle under the Texas Public Information Act.
Perry pressed for the waiver despite an April 10 Texas A&M study that showed a waiver of federal mandates on ethanol production would have little or no effect in driving down the price of feed corn for poultry and livestock. The A&M study blamed rising corn prices on the cost of oil, global demands for corn and commodities speculation.
At Perry's request, A&M did a second study that was released in June. It found that if corn crops were short because of Midwestern flooding, a waiver would significantly lower corn prices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this week reported that the corn harvest would be smaller than last year but only because fewer acres were planted.
Perry's staff coordinated preparation of the waiver request with Pilgrim's Pride lobbyist Gaylor Hughey of Tyler and Cliff Angelo with Public Strategies, the firm handling a public relations campaign against ethanol for Pilgrim's Pride and a coalition of meat producers.
Talking points prepared for Pilgrim's appearance before the Republican governors were almost identical to ones Public Strategies gave reporters in advance of a June 24 news conference the firm organized for Perry at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.