The American Meat Institute (AMI), in partnership with the National Chicken Council (NCC), National Meat Association (NMA) and National Turkey Federation (NTF), launched a new website that explains corn-based ethanol's connection to rising food prices and urges consumers to show their support for a balanced energy policy.
Food prices are up – meat and poultry prices specifically are up 8.5 percent from a year ago – and many consumers are asking why. About 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is now devoted to ethanol production, because nearly all ethanol produced in this country is derived from corn. This increase in corn demand drives its cost higher, putting tremendous pressure on the livestock and poultry industries that traditionally have been major users of corn as feed. Corn prices have roughly tripled since the government in 2006 mandated ethanol be blended into gasoline and the Consumer Price Index for meat and poultry has risen steadily with it.
The new website, outlines for consumers how these rising corn prices have contributed to increased meat and poultry costs at the grocery store and asks them for their help in ending federal support of the corn-based ethanol industry, by signing a petition that states: “Federal energy policies need to move beyond corn-based ethanol and look for the next generation of alternative fuels that don't pit food, feed and fuel needs against each other.
“When consumers see the ‘Contains Ethanol’ sticker at the gas pump, many don’t realize the connection between the sticker and their grocery bills,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “This new website aims to provide the facts and allow consumers to raise objections to this policy in an online petition. It also offers tips on stretching your meat and poultry dollar.”
“The policies and rules of the game for corn-based ethanol must be re-balanced and the playing field must be leveled to permit chicken producers and other animal agriculture producers to more fairly compete for the very limited supplies of corn this year and most likely for the next few years,” noted NCC President Mike Brown. “Chicken companies and all of animal agriculture are bearing the burden and feeling the disastrous effects of competing for corn on a field that is heavily tilted toward the ethanol industry,” he said, adding that some companies have been forced to limit production and lay off workers due to the high cost of corn.
“The facts on this site show that food prices are in an escalating competition with ethanol due to its tariffs and subsidies," added NMA CEO Barry Carpenter. “These short-sighted policies have done too little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and too much to pull feed ingredients off the market, which is radically increasing food costs without benefit.”
“Consumers will be able to use this website as an informative resource on food-to-fuel policies,” said NTF President Joel Brandenberger. “It also will help them urge their elected officials to make better decisions to balance food and energy needs. There is also a section to help families cope with rising grocery prices by making a few modifications to their food purchasing and cooking techniques.”