WASHINGTON — A coalition of food and agriculture groups, including the American Meat Institute, has sent a letter to Congressional leaders supporting the development of second-generation biofuels. The group urged Congress to support policies in the economic stimulus package to help commercialize cellulosic and other advanced biofuels that will end the reliance on food and feed sources for fuel production.

The coalition is requesting Congress to redirect a $5 billion-a-year tax subsidy for gasoline refiners who blend corn ethanol to a production tax credit for the producers of cellulosic and advanced biofuels to help finance new investments in second-generation fuels.

A five-fold increase in producing conventional biofuels since 2000 — in combination with other factors, such as rising energy prices, poor weather and global demand — has contributed to volatile commodity prices and a sustained period of commodity and food inflation, the coalition points out. One way Congress can help ensure that the U.S. is not pitting its energy policies against the need for affordable food is by investing in second-generation biofuels, the letter concludes.

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