In comments submitted this week to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Pork Producers Council said EPA should grant a waiver of the federal requirement for the production of corn ethanol because the mandate, coupled with a summer drought that has reduced yields and pushed up prices of feedgrains, is causing severe economic harm to pork producers.
The federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requires 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2012 and 13.9 billion gallons in 2013, amounts that will use about 4.7 billion and 4.9 billion bushels, respectively, of the nation’s corn crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Oct. 11 crop report estimates that just 10.7 billion bushels of corn will be harvested this year.
With the RFS, NPPC pointed out in its comments, a weather-driven supply shock no longer simply results in higher prices for feedgrains but causes “explosively higher prices, crippling credit and liquidity shortfalls and the frightening prospect that some producers ... cannot assure stable access to ... corn to feed their animals.”
The organization also pointed to three analyses on the effects of the RFS – ones from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri, Iowa State University and Purdue University – that concluded that a waiver of the federal mandate would have a marginal effect on ethanol production but alleviate the severe economic harm that is being experienced in various states and regions and by pork, poultry and livestock producers.
In a July 30 petition to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, NPPC and other livestock and poultry organizations asked for a waiver “in whole or in substantial part” of the amount of renewable fuel that must be produced under the RFS for the remainder of this year and for the portion of 2013 that is one year from the time the waiver becomes effective.
EPA is expected to make a decision on the NPPC waiver request and on petitions from seven governors in mid-November.
[Click here to read NPPC’s comments.]