Senators Ask for Ethanol Mandate Reprieve

WASHINGTON — Due to the severe drought in the Midwest devastating corn supplies, 25 senators sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson on Tuesday to request she use her waiver authority to decrease the corn-ethanol mandate. 

As of Aug. 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 50% of the corn crop was rated poor to very poor, the letter cites. The crop damage is expected to push feed prices to new highs and drive up meat prices.

“As stressful weather conditions continue to push corn yield lower and prices upward, the economic ramifications for consumers, livestock and poultry producers, food manufacturers and foodservice providers will be more severe,” the senators wrote in the letter [4], later noting that ethanol production uses approximately 40% of the corn crop.

Last week, meat producers filed a petition with EPA, asking the agency to waive the mandate, part of the Renewable Fuel Standard, for one year.

“An unsustainable situation has been created by the drought combined with the lack of cushion in the corn supply due to the tremendous demand from ethanol producers,” said Tom Super of the National Chicken Council, in a conference call. 

“We believe that the RFS is causing severe economic harm during this crisis. The RFS waiver option was put into law for crisis options as this.”

For the agricultural perspective on the ethanol mandate, see a recent story from the Delta Farm Press [5].