A bipartisan group of senators are urging the US Environmental Protection Agency to help livestock and poultry farmers deal with severe drought conditions by waiving the federal mandate that requires corn-ethanol to be blended into gasoline, following the steps taken by the 156 House of Representative members last week.
The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requires 13.2 billion gallons (49.97 Gigalitres) of corn-based ethanol to be produced in 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons (52.24 Gl) in 2013, amounts that will see the ethanol industry use about 4.7 billion and 4.9 billion bushels (165.6 million and 172.7 millioncubic metres), respectively, of the nation’s corn.
The 25 senators – 13 Democrats and 12 Republicans – wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, asking that she take immediate action to bring relief to farmers suffering from the worst drought in more than 50 years. House members last week sent a similar letter to Jackson.
The US Department of Agriculture recently rated 23% of the nation’s corn crop as good to excellent and 50 percent as poor to very poor because of the drought affecting most of the corn-growing regions.
“As stressful weather conditions continue to push corn yields lower and prices upward, the economic ramifications for consumers, livestock and poultry producers, food manufacturers and foodservice providers will become more severe,” the senators wrote in their letter to Jackson. “We ask you to adjust the corn grain-ethanol mandate of the RFS to reflect this natural disaster and these new market conditions. Doing so will help to ease supply concerns and provide relief from high corn prices.”
The requests by Senate and House lawmakers follow the July 30 filing of a petition by a coalition of livestock and poultry organizations, including NPPC, asking EPA to grant in whole or in part a waiver of the RFS for the remainder of 2012 and for part of 2013.