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EPA asked to reduce ethanol mandate

DANIEL LOOKER 07/29/2012 @ 11:00pm Business Editor

A coalition of meat, poultry and dairy groups Monday asked the Environmental Protection Agency to waive all or part of the renewable fuels standard, which mandates the use of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply. The EPA has the authority to do so if it appears the supply of a renewable fuel is inadequate and would cause economic harm. Ethanol trade groups have responded by saying that the drought is being used as an excuse to attack their industry.

In a petition delivered to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the coalition asked for a waiver “in whole or in substantial part” of the amount of renewable fuel that must be produced under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) for the remainder of this year and for the portion of 2013 that is one year from the time the waiver becomes effective.

The RFS requires 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be produced in 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons in 2013, amounts that will use about 4.7 billion and 4.9 billion bushels, respectively, of the nation’s corn. Some agricultural forecasters now are estimating that just 11.8 billion bushels of corn will be harvested this year – about 13 billion were harvested in 2011 – meaning corn-ethanol production will use about four of every 10 bushels.

The RFS has “directly affected the supply and cost of feed in major agricultural sectors of this country, causing the type of economic harm that justifies issuance of an RFS waiver,” said the coalition in its petition.

“I support American ethanol and what it has done for rural communities in Nebraska and in many other states throughout the country,” said J.D. Alexander, Nebraska cattleman and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president. “What I do not support are federal mandates picking winners and losers and a federal government sitting patiently by, forking over taxpayer dollars to artificially inflate the price of corn for livestock producers and other end-users. I find it concerning to the viability of the livestock industry that these mandates are allowed to continue today in the worst drought I have seen in my lifetime. This isn’t rocket science. Implement the law, waive the RFS, let the market work and embrace free market principles.”

Members of the coalition that signed the petition include the American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industries Association, California Dairy Campaign, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Producers of Utah, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Milk Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Nevada State Dairy Commission, North American Meat Association, Northwest Dairy Association, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Southeast Milk Inc., United Dairymen of Arizona and the Washington State Dairy Federation.

Ethanol industry trade groups said the waiver isn't needed and would have only a slight effect on corn prices.

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Let's Hope that the Mandate is Repealed! 07/30/2012 @ 3:19pm The RFS has been a complete disaster for America. The rich farmers that back it should be put in their place. Even in a drought year, the NCGA, Growth Energy, etc would rather watch children and animals starve to death than relax the mandate. Such greed I have never seen before in agriculture and its very disappointing. I personally have no respect whatsoever for grain farmers or their lobby. I hope the American people wake up and repeal the RFS completely and outlaw production of fuel from our food!

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