Craig Uden, a fourth generation cattleman from Elwood, NE, is an old hand in the cattle business. He is a partner in Darr Feedlot, Inc., a commercial cattle feeding operation, and he and his wife, Terri, own and manage three commercial cow-calf operations. In his spare time, Uden serves as vice chair of the NCBA’s Policy Division.
He buys a lot of corn, too.
Craig Uden Last week, on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, he spoke out against the current state of the Renewable Fuels Standard and its effect on the price of a bushel of corn. To be precise, he wasn’t against ethanol production, just the artificial price supports it enjoys at a devastating cost to the cattle industry. Answering my questions about his objections, he restated that position several times. Underlined it. Emphasized it. Highlighted it with a bright yellow Sharpie.
But to be clear, he and NCBA want a change and think H.R. 1462, the proposed RFS Reform Act, will give the cattle industry the relief it needs. He suggests government rules and regs should be set aside and let the market decide how corn should be used. The point is debated in ag circles often, though, and pro-ethanol advocates think things are just fine the way they are. With many cattlemen also in the corn business, there’s a tricky tightrope, swinging in the political and financial breezes, being walked by a lot of people.
If you’re growing corn, $8 per bushel is a great place to be. If you’re a cattleman buying corn, it’s not so good. Remember the good old days of $3 corn? Here’s what Mr. Uden had to say about the problem:
Q. Craig, speaking for the National Cattlemen’s beef Association, you said, “NCBA appreciates the efforts of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in discussing the RFS, and we look forward to working with the committee on making significant changes to this policy . . . It is clear that the RFS must be overhauled and the RFS Reform Act (H.R. 1462) proposes to do just that.”
Would you explain how H.R. 1462 will overhaul the RFS standard so that it will become acceptable to the NCBA?
A. The Renewable Fuel Standard Reform Act you referenced would eliminate the corn based ethanol mandate under the RFS and rescind the requirements of blending up to 15% of ethanol into the fuel supply. In effect, this bill would generally reduce the total RFS between 2014 and 2022. This would bring the RFS under control and allow corn based biofuels to stand accountable to more of a market-based system. That is all we are asking, cattlemen and women do not oppose the ethanol industry, but we do oppose the government manipulation of the corn market through a flawed mandate. We oppose the RFS, and will continue to work with Congress on reform.