NTF, AFFI support RFS reform legislation

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – Meat and poultry industry stakeholders continued to press for an end to the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The National Turkey Federation announced the organization's support for the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act, which removes the corn ethanol mandate. NTF said the mandate has had negative consequences to food production and consumers.

“EPA’s failure to finalize its initial 2014 proposal to reduce Renewable Fuel Standard levels for corn ethanol blended into gasoline proves the RFS mandate is fundamentally flawed and unworkable,” said Joel Brandenburger, NTF president. “Uncertainty in the marketplace from the RFS corn ethanol mandate, since the beginning, has caused volatility in the supply of corn available as the crucial ingredient in turkey and other livestock feed. Congress set the RFS mandate into motion, and should make a reasoned decision to pass legislation to free corn ethanol from this process of indecision.”

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declined to finalize volume standards under the Renewable Fuels Standard program before the end of 2014. The agency said the volume of comments on the rule and ongoing consideration of issues presented by the commenters caused EPA to delay taking action on the 2014 standards rule until sometime in 2015.

But the meat and poultry industry aren't the only stakeholders frustrated by the uncertainty surrounding the RFS. Corn growers have opposed attempts to alter the mandate. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said attempts to change the RFS are coming "at the worst possible time" for corn growers. The corn industry has reported a record corn crop and low prices for corn.

“Corn ending stocks – the amount above and beyond current demand – are estimated at nearly 2 billion bushels this year, thanks to two back-to-back record harvests,” commented Chip Bowling, NCGA president and corn farmer in Maryland. “And with corn selling at low prices, any legislative attempt to cut one of our key markets will drive prices even further below cost of production. We have a policy that works well not just for the environment and energy security – but for the rural economy. We need to support farmers, not bankrupt them.”

NCGA noted an attempt in the US Senate to attach the amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline legislation. Beth Elliott, NCGA director of public policy, argued there are many good reasons to continue the RFS.

“Corn ethanol is better for the environment than fossil fuels and has historically lowered the cost of filling our tanks by nearly a dollar,” Elliott said. “It has been proven that ethanol does not have an impact on the price of food.”

The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) also expressed support for the Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act. In addition to eliminating the corn ethanol mandate, the legislation limits the RFS to renewable biomass and other advanced fuels. AFFI also noted that bill would reduce the total size of the RFS by 42 percent over the next nine years.

“Corn is a vital part of America’s food supply, both as an animal feed and a food ingredient, said Kraig R. Naasz, AFFI president and CEO. The staggering amount of corn needed to produce ethanol can cause tremendous price volatility, making meat, dairy, wheat and soybeans all more expensive. Many of the most popular frozen foods and prepared meals are made with these ingredients, exposing food makers and consumers to higher prices.”
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