“It is now abundantly clear that this law is broken, and we will explore remedies to fix it.” 

That is the bottom line message of a statement issued by a coalition of livestock and meat associations Nov. 16 in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s refusal to grant a waiver to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandate for corn ethanol production.

The coalition includes the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, Milk Producers Council, American Sheep Industries Association, the American Feed Industry Association, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, American Meat Institute and 13 others.

Industry At A Glance: Corn Volatility

“We now have about one-third less of the corn that we need to adequately supply animal feed, ethanol, exports and sufficient carry-over levels,” the coalition noted. “But the government continues to mandate that a significant amount of the corn supply be blended next year into gasoline.”

The coalition explains that when Congress expanded the RFS in 2007, it added safety valves. For instance, one provision allows the EPA administrator to reduce the required volume of renewable fuel in any year based on severe harm to the economy or environment of a state, a region or the U.S.

In addition to the livestock, poultry and dairy organizations, a bipartisan group of 34 U.S. senators, 156 House members, and nine governors petitioned EPA to grant a waiver of the federal requirement for the production of corn ethanol.

A Closer Look: High Feed Costs To Force Structural Change

According to the coalition, a waiver was sought, “because the mandate, coupled with a drought that has reduced yields and pushed up prices of feed grains, has caused the severe economic harm for which Congress added safety valves.

“Unfortunately, EPA chose to ignore all of them by issuing a decision that is going to cost more American jobs, put family farmers and ranchers out of business, create an animal feed crisis and cause food costs to soar in the coming months." 

Citing USDA, the coalition explains that the RFS requires 13.8 billion gals. of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2013, an amount that will use about 4.5 billion bu. of the nation’s corn crop.