In comments submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last week, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which requires 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be used for gasoline production in 2012 and 13.9bn gallons in 2013, was causing “severe economic harm” to the nation’s pork producers.
It claimed the mandate had left the corn sector unable to deal with weather-supply shocks, such as the summer drought, leaving livestock producers facing “explosively higher prices, crippling credit and liquidity shortfalls”.
“The inherent buffering capacity of the corn sector has been significantly strained by the federally-mandated, year-on-year growth in the demand for ethanol and the corn that produces it,” it said.
“The corn sector must substantially increase its output every year or put the system at risk of being wholly incapable of adjusting and mitigating the worst effects of severe supply shocks, such as that resulting from this year’s drought, particularly if such a supply shock is repeated two-years in a row.”
The NPPC is part of a coalition of livestock and poultry organisations, which officially petitioned the EPA in July, asking for a waiver “in whole or in substantial part” of the RFS for the remainder of 2012 and part of 2013. The EPA announced in August that it would hold a review of the RFS and asked for comments and information on all waiver requests and petitions. It is expected to make its decision in mid-November.
“In light of the ongoing disastrous drought that continues to afflict our nation, and the outsized impact of the RFS on the supply of ever-finite levels of corn, EPA’s consideration of these petitions and requests for a waiver of the RFS mandate is an urgent matter,” said the NPPC statement.
“EPA’s granting of a full or partial waiver of the RFS is necessary to avert the severe economic harm that has been experienced in 2012 by pork producers and the communities and states they live in, and that will continue to manifest itself in 2013 and beyond.”