RFS legislative fix still sought

RFS legislative fix still sought

THE American Petroleum Institute hosted a call preceding an official announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency that it will significantly lower 2014 volume requirements under the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

On the call, leaders from the National Chicken Council (NCC) and National Turkey Federation (NTF) were steadfast in their push for a permanent fix to the RFS.

NTF president and chief executive officer Joel Brandenberger said the EPA move was "something to be thankful for" due to the swings corn-based ethanol has caused for the availability and pricing of feeds. However, he said the fix offers just a "short-term breather" as NTF members are still feeding "drought-ravished, expensive corn," and it will take some time before that impact fully works its way through the system.

"One-year fixes ultimately don't work," he said.

A statement from an animal agriculture coalition representing meat, dairy, poultry and feed associations added that the RFS action is a "step in the right direction; however, it is the responsibility of the Congress to find a lasting solution to this rigid, inflexible program and put livestock and poultry producers back on equal standing in the marketplace."

"We appreciate this action as it acknowledges that a problem exists with the current policy. The inflexible RFS mandate continues to have a detrimental impact on the economy and makes feeding animals risky because our industries are not competing on a level playing field," the coalition said.

A separate group, Feed Food Fairness: Take RFS Off the Menu, comprised of poultry and livestock producers, small chain restaurateurs and other members of the food chain, said a core concern of the coalition is that the RFS should not be viewed solely from an energy and environmental perspective because the law also raises food commodity prices, which creates unnecessary and damaging burdens on farmers, small businesses in the food chain and, ultimately, consumers.

Rob Green, executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants, said he is encouraged by steps by the House energy and commerce committees have taken this year with white papers and hearings addressing the RFS. He expects the House to address the RFS "in a very significant way" in early 2014.

NCC president Mike Brown said last year's drought and higher corn prices have put livestock producers up against a wall. However, because EPA's decision is driven by the blend wall, they'll support efforts in both the House and Senate to make changes to how yearly RFS levels are set.

Livestock groups have been supportive of legislation that ties RFS levels to corn prices and supplies.

The National Corn Growers Assn. said the psychological impact of EPA's proposal to lower the RFS mandates is anticipated to push corn prices well below the cost of production.

Supporters said this should be considered when evaluating the future of the RFS.

"A shock of this magnitude to agriculture markets would send ripples throughout the entire economy. Congress must carefully weigh the ramifications any changes to the RFS would have on agriculture and related industries. The U.S. economy and consumers can ill afford a downturn in this sector," corn growers president Martin Barbre said.

Volume:85 Issue:48

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