Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) introduced the "Renewable Fuels and Energy Independence Promotion Act" this week. It would make permanent the biodiesel and ethanol tax incentive, as well as the small agri-biodiesel producer and small ethanol producer credits.

Pomeroy said, "We must do everything we can to encourage the production of renewable fuels as our nation strives for energy independence. Making this tax credit for biodiesel and ethanol permanent is a critical component of that effort." The biodiesel tax credit expires in 2008 and the ethanol tax credit expires in 2010.

Meanwhile, The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the Iowa Pork Producers Association told the Senate Ag committee this week of their concerns with the "rapid rise" in ethanol demand. They cited a study by Iowa State University's Center for Ag and Rural Development (CARD) that said "current crude oil prices and government policies allow the ethanol industry to pay up to $4.05/bu. for corn."

Former USDA economist William Tierney predicts the annual usage rate of corn will be more than 10 billion bu. by the end of 2009 if all ethanol plants currently under construction or planned come on line. The 2006 corn crop is estimated to be 10.7 billion bu.
-- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent