WASHINGTON – Gov. Mike Beebe (D-Ark.) and Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-N.C.) have joined more than 180 members of Congress, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and other livestock groups in requesting that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and bring much-needed relief to the thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country who are experiencing the effects of the nation’s worst drought in almost 50 years.
Under the RFS requirements, 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol must be produced in 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons in 2013, amounts that will use about 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop. Due to this year’s crippling drought, some agricultural forecasters now are estimating that just 11.8 billion bushels of corn will be harvested this year, meaning corn-ethanol production will use about four of every 10 bushels.
“Higher feed costs following the passage of the first RFS in 2005, and the second in 2007, have resulted in a long-term shortage of grain in our nation, especially corn, and are clearly taking a terrible toll on Arkansas’s poultry and animal agriculture, potentially forcing reduced production and job losses and increasing food prices for consumers worldwide," said Gov. Beebe in a letter addressed to Jackson. “While the drought may have trigged the price spike in corn, an underlying cause is the federal policy mandating ever-increasing amounts of corn for fuel.”
Gov. Perdue also sent a letter to Jackson, stating that, “While the severe drought that our nation has experienced is an underlying factor in current economic conditions, the direct harm is caused by the RFS requirement to utilize ever-increasing amounts of corn and soybeans for transportation fuel, severely increasing the costs of producing food and further depleting already stressed grain supplies.”
“As president of the North Carolina Cattlemen's Association, my major concern is whether or not cattle farmers in our state and across the country will have enough feed for the cattle in their care,” said Bill Cameron Jr., a cattleman from Raeford, N.C.
Marcus Creasy, cattleman from Arkansas and president of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, said, “This drought has severely affected my cattle and my business operations. Cattlemen in this drought-affected state and in other states are struggling to feed their cattle, all while the price of grain continues to increase. How many more congressional members, state leaders and livestock producers have to express their support of waiving the ethanol mandate before EPA finally listens?”