Livestock, poultry groups request hearing to evaluate RFS

By Kris Bevill | December 07, 2011

A coalition of livestock and poultry lobby groups submitted a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee leaders on Dec. 7, requesting a hearing to evaluate the economic impact of the renewable fuel standard (RFS). A hearing is warranted based on increasing feed prices for livestock producers, according to the groups, which they believe is a direct result of increased ethanol production in response to RFS mandates.

“As representatives of the livestock and poultry industry, we remain concerned over the continued pressure on grain supplies and the impact this is having on the bottom line and risk management strategies of livestock and poultry producers,” the groups stated in the letter. The coalition, which includes the American Meat Institute, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Chicken Council and 13 other livestock and poultry groups, further expressed concern over reports that congressional support is growing for a modification to the RFS that would allow corn-based ethanol to qualify as an advanced biofuel. The coalition believes a modification of that sort would only exacerbate the already tight corn supply situation.

The coalition also cited the U.S. EPA’s recent discovery of fraudulent renewable identification numbers (RINs) as reason to examine the RFS, stating that the RIN system is likely only one of “potentially hundreds of areas that highlight the problems with the current rigid RFS compliance system.”

Matt Hartwig, communications director for the Renewable Fuels Association, said livestock groups are falsely blaming the ethanol industry for high corn prices and are ignoring the real factors at play in the commodity market. “The corporate livestock lobbies are seeking a return to the day when they could buy corn under the cost of production for American farmers,” he said. “In doing so, they are scapegoating ethanol as the cause of higher corn prices and giving a free pass to hedge funds, market speculators, oil dictators and a host of other factors that all play a greater role in raising corn and food prices than does ethanol.”

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., serves as chairwoman of the Senate EPW committee. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is the ranking member of the committee. Both are outspoken opponents of corn-based ethanol. A representative for Boxer said the committee is currently reviewing the livestock coalition’s request for a hearing.