Leaders Nationwide Applaud Common Council’s Stand Against Turning Food into Fuel
Local and National Leaders Urge Committee to Adopt Alderman Bohl’s Resolution
MILWAUKEE, WI, July 21, 2008 -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Today, the Milwaukee Common Council’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee will hold a hearing on a resolution that urges Congress to “discontinue federal corn ethanol mandates, cease incentives for corn ethanol production and end tariffs on imported biofuels.”
This resolution, sponsored by Alderman James Bohl, Jr. of Milwaukee’s 5th District would make the city one of the first in America to take a stand on this critical issue. This resolution comes as statistics show that food prices are spiking at the fastest rate in two decades, leaving millions of Americans struggling to pay their grocery bills. Economists in the U.S. and around the world are increasingly pointing at policies that divert corn and other grains for the production of biofuels as a primary culprit in this unprecedented food price surge, which is wreaking havoc throughout the food economy, including livestock and dairy farmers, poultry producers and restaurants.
Doug Wolf, a Wisconsin pork producer and board member of the National Pork Producers Council said: "Pork producers here are struggling as feed prices have tripled over the last two years. Today, pork producers have to compete with a government mandated, subsidized ethanol industry for every bushel of corn on the market. It is literally driving us out of business. The Common Council is doing a real service by sending a message loud and clear that it's time for Congress to come to its senses and change course on this dangerous policy."
At present, Congressional policies mandate the conversion of more than one-third of all U.S. corn to ethanol, with additional subsidies and tariffs further promoting the diversion of food to fuel. A recent study by the World Bank suggests that food-to-fuel policies in the U.S. and Europe are responsible for up to 75% of global food price inflation. Economist Bill Lapp has issued a report indicating that current policies will lead to food inflation of 9 percent per year through 2012. Already, food prices in the U.S are rising at twice the rate of overall inflation and the fastest rate in two decades.
“Livestock farmers and processors in Wisconsin and all over the country are being squeezed by skyrocketing feed costs caused in large part by policies that divert corn from feeding their animals to burning in our gas tanks,” said Dave Ray, vice president of public affairs for the American Meat Institute. “As a result, consumers in Milwaukee and all over America are seeing the cost of brats, sausage and other meat products shoot up. Even after eating up a third of our corn crop, ethanol has displaced less than 4 percent of our nation’s fuel supply. It is a credit to the voters and elected leaders of the City of Milwaukee that the Common Council is taking the lead. Congress should look to the practical people of Milwaukee and revisit these policies immediately.”
The hearing will take place today at 1:30p.m., Room 301-B in Milwaukee City Hall.
The hearing has caught the attention of national associations whose members live and work in Wisconsin.
“American families are staggered when they go to the grocery store and see how expensive basic foods have become,” said Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation. “The primary culprit: a federal policy that forces our nation to turn one-third of its corn into ethanol. For turkey growers, who have seen feed costs more than double, the situation is dire. Not only jobs are at risk, but an entire way of life is threatened as turkey growers face the prospect of losing their farms. Milwaukee’s Common Council is doing the right thing by sending a powerful message from the heartland that Congress must change course before an already dire situation grows even worse.”
New York’s City Council has proposed a similar resolution to the one offered by the Milwaukee Common Council. Also, Texas Governor Rick Perry has submitted a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a temporary waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard, citing the enormous economic harm these policies are causing.