Livestock, Poultry Industries Support Legislation to Tie Ethanol Mandate to Corn Supplies
Representatives from the livestock and poultry industries joined forces today, Oct. 5, 2011, to commend U.S. Representatives Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) for introducing the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) Flexibility Act. The legislation calls for a twice annual review of the corn stocks-to-use ratio. If the ratio falls below a threshold of 10 percent, the RFS could be reduced. The groups said the legislation will provide relief in times of tight corn supplies while also ensuring there is enough corn to meet the demand from all end-users.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the National Chicken Council (NCC), the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the National Turkey Federation (NTF) participated in a press conference hosted by Reps. Goodlatte and Costa to introduce the legislation. The groups raised concerns about the impact tight feed supplies and high feed prices, partially because of the RFS, have had on livestock and poultry producers.
“Cattlemen are not opposed to ethanol. We simply want the federal government to get out of the marketplace and allow the market to work,” said Kevin Kester, California cattleman and president of the California Cattlemen’s Association, an affiliate of NCBA. “USDA has projected this year’s corn crop will be more than 400 million bushels smaller than last year. Supplies are already tight due to drought, floods and rising demand, driven partially by the mandate. A smaller corn crop will put even further strain on corn stocks. It’s time to add a layer of common sense to our nation’s renewable fuels policy. We commend Congressmen Goodlatte and Costa for their leadership on this issue and we urge all members of Congress to support this commonsense bill.”
“The nation’s inventory of corn has fallen to critically low levels and will most likely fall further to only about two and a half weeks’ worth of corn on hand. This is due primarily to the enormous draw on the corn crop by ethanol producers – about 40 percent of the total. Chicken producers are facing corn shortages while ethanol producers are actually exporting corn-based ethanol to other countries. In North Carolina, a thousand plant workers lost their jobs last month and 150 farm families no longer have contracts to grow chickens because a chicken company was forced to close due to the high cost of corn,” said Bill Roenigk NCC senior vice president and chief economist. “Is it fair to family farmers who have grown chickens for generations to risk foreclosure and the loss of the family homestead so that ethanol can continue to be exported?”
“America’s pork producers, who need corn to feed their animals, are grateful to Congressmen Goodlatte and Costa for sponsoring legislation to protect the nation’s livestock and poultry producers should there be a shortage of corn,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “Production of biofuels is important to the U.S. economy but so is production of food. The Goodlatte-Costa bill will help ensure that Americans have affordable, abundant meat and poultry in times of short supplies of corn.”
“While no one item is a silver bullet to fixing the low corn stock problem, the National Turkey Federation applauds Reps. Goodlatte and Costa for introducing legislation that will help alleviate the tight corn stocks and protect livestock and poultry producers from excessively high prices caused by the government mandates that divert nearly half the nation’s corn into the fuel supply,” said NTF President Joel Brandenberger. “For many years, the turkey industry has been looking to reform the existing ethanol policy and commends this forward thinking legislative proposal. The proposal would put a safety net in place that ensures the availability of corn and reduces price volatility in the future. The Renewable Fuels Standard should be reevaluated by creating a policy that provides practical, automatic and meaningful protection against a poor corn harvest. We look forward to working with Congressman Goodlatte and Costa and appreciate their leadership.”