US senators aim to remove corn ethanol mandate

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Corn ethanol mandate under pressure in US

Related tags Livestock

Two US senators have introduced a bill to eliminate the corn ethanol mandate within the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), pointing to rising food and animal feed prices.

Last week senators Dianne Feinstein and Tom Coburn introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013, which has been co-sponsored by eight other senators. The bill would remove the top-line mandate for renewable fuels, while leaving mandates for non-corn ethanol advanced biofuels in place.

Feinstein said: “Under the corn ethanol mandate in the RFS, roughly 44% of US corn is diverted from food to fuel, pushing up the cost of food and animal feed and damaging the environment. Oil companies arealso unable to blend more corn ethanol into gasoline without causing problems for automobiles, boats and other vehicles.

“I strongly support requiring a shift to low-carbon advanced biofuel, including biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and other revolutionary fuels. But a corn ethanol mandate is simply bad policy.”

Coburn added: “The time to end the corn ethanol mandate has arrived. This misguided policy has cost taxpayers billions of dollars, increased fuel prices and made our food more expensive. Eliminating this mandate will let market forces, rather than political and parochial forces, determine how to diversify fuel supplies in an ever-changing marketplace.”

The bill has received support from the US meat and poultry industry, which has hailed it as a simple and effective solution to the problems caused by corn being diverted to ethanol, driving up feed costs and meat prices.

National Chicken Council president Mike Brown said congressional action to repeal the corn ethanol mandate remained “the most viable pathway” to allowing all users of corn to have an equal standing in the marketplace.

“It is clear that the momentum in Washington is shifting and our elected officials and regulators are realising that the supplies for our feed, food and fuel must not be pitted against each other,”​ he said.

National Turkey Federation president Joel Brandenberger pointed out that corn is a major part of poultry producers’ costs, and warned farmers were still feeling the impact of the volatility caused by the mandate this year. “Turkeys are being fed off last season’s purchase of high-priced corn, and those costs linger well after the lower-priced corn harvest available now,”​ he added.

A coalition of poultry and livestock groups, including the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and American Meat Institute, have sent a letter to the US senate urging members to support the bill as co-sponsors.

“This bipartisan legislation is a simple, effective solution to the problems facing the livestock and poultry industry and would eliminate the corn-based ethanol mandate currently required by the RFS and provide relief to consumers across the country,​” the letter stated.

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