US governors join corn ethanol debate

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

US governors join corn ethanol debate

Related tags Ethanol fuel United states environmental protection agency Livestock Poultry

Two US governors have waded into the debate over corn ethanol production, calling on the goverment to waive the quotas mandated by the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina and Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas officially petitioned the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the RFS in seperate letters sent earlier this week.

Perdue said that it was now “beyond dispute”​ that the country was going through a severe prolonged drought of “historic proportions”​. She argued that the RFS requirement to use corn and soybeans for transportation fuel was causing “direct harm”​.

“Whatever the final damage done by the severe lack of rainfall, it is clear that this harm is reflected in accelerated prices for corn and soybeans, which have a severe economic impact on the state of North Carolina, various regions within the state, and important economic sectors within the state,”​ she said.

Beebe said that while the drought may have triggered the price spike in corn, the federal mandate on corn ethanol was an “underlying cause”.

“The higher feed costs following the passage of RFS1 in 2005 and RFS2 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’ poultry and animal agriculture, potentially forcing reduced production and job losses and increasing food prices for consumers worldwide,”​ he said.

Poultry support

The petition from the two govenors, who represent the second and fourth largest broiler chicken producing states and the second and third turkey producing states, has been welcomed by the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation.

“On behalf of North Carolina’s and Arkansas’s chicken farmers and processors, and the entire chicken industry, I thank Governors Perdue and Beebe for their efforts in trying to bring some relief to poultry producers, consumers and the economic sectors that are struggling due to the drought, the high price of corn and continued corn-ethanol mandates,”​ said NCC President Mike Brown.  

“I strongly urge EPA Administrator Jackson to immediately grant a full, one-year waiver for the corn-ethanol mandate.”

NTF president Joel Brandenberger added: “As this drought continues to wreak havoc on our nation’s corn crops, we are grateful to Governors Perdue and Beebe who are showing real leadership by asking for relief

“We need a waiver now, while EPA has the ability to make a difference in our members’ livelihoods and the nation’s economy.  These governors are asking for the right thing- at a time when it is critical and we thank them.”

Governors Perdue and Beebe are the latest in a long line of industry and political figures to call for the government to waive the RFS, including 156 US House members, 26 US Senators, poultry and livestock producers and the United Nations.

Last Friday the USDA slashed its estimate for the 2012-13 corn crop in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. It predicted that the 2012-13 corn crop could be 10.8 billion bushels, with a yield of 123.4 bushels per acre. This represents 22 bushels per acre less than previous estimates and could result in 533 million fewer bushels than anticipated.

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