A billboard on Old 63 was designed to send a message. To some, it’s the wrong message.
The billboard depicts a farmer next to the former king of Saudi Arabia with the question, "Who would you rather buy your gas from?" The bottom of the billboard reads: "Support the statewide ethanol standard."
Terry Hilgedick is the farmer on the billboard. He’s also the president of the Missouri Corn Growers Association and a Hartsburg farmer. He said the intent of the message from MCGA and the Missouri Renewable Fuels Association was to raise awareness that Americans now have choice about the source of their fuel.
"I think it is the first time in U.S. history that we have a choice between Middle Eastern oil or renewable fuel grown here in Missouri," he said. "I think it’s a fair question."
The MCGA has seven similar billboards throughout the state with Hilgedick and the king and 10 others with just Hilgedick and the caption "Use ethanol, we’ll grow more."
But some feel the billboard with the Saudi king conveys a message of animosity toward a group of people rather than pushing awareness of an economic choice for corn-based ethanol fuel.
"Just looking at the board implies hate and discrimination for no reason," Kamal Yassin, president of the St. Louis chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Associated Press.
A local minister this morning said that there is a better way to deal with the issue.