NCBA Statement on the EPA's Refusal to Waive the Renewable Fuels Standard Mandate
DENVER - “The cattle producers that make up the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) are disappointed with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision not to grant a waiver from the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). We had hoped that the Administration would recognize the hardship cattle producers are facing with tight corn supplies and high prices for feed.
“Our industry has suffered a record of nearly $1.5 billion in cattle feeding losses between January and June of 2008, which we believe constitutes the severe economic impact necessary to prompt a waiver from the RFS mandate.
“With the ethanol mandate increasing from nine billion gallons in 2008 to 11.1 billion gallons in 2009, this situation will only worsen. The government is drastically increasing the demands on our corn supply in a time of record prices. Several million more planted corn acres will be needed in 2009 at a time when competition for acreage is already very tight.
“Governor Rick Perry of Texas provided exceptional leadership in requesting the waiver, and his efforts highlighted the plight of ranchers across the country. With the government mandating that large portions of our corn crop be used to create ethanol, it is our cattle producers who are feeling the biggest pinch. High demand and high prices for corn hurt America’s ranchers more than any other sector of the economy.
“Although we are not pleased with the outcome of this process, NCBA is glad that this waiver request brought national attention to the plight of our ranchers. We will continue our efforts to ease the burden of tight feed supplies for our cattle producers, and will encourage other states to file for waivers from the RFS. NCBA also works on behalf of our producers by exploring all possible legislative vehicles to mitigate the effects of high corn prices.
“NCBA supports biofuels and places a high priority on energy independence for the United States. A comprehensive energy plan is in the best interest of our nation. We believe that—as in any industry—open competition on the free market is the best vehicle for innovation and development of renewable energy. U.S. agriculture can accommodate demands for both food and fuel over time, but in the interim, the marketplace should be left to decide prices based solely upon economics—not government intervention via mandates and subsidies.
“America’s cattle producers deserve a level playing field on which to compete, and NCBA will continue to work towards that goal by opposing government intervention in agricultural markets.”
Andy Groseta is a rancher from Cottonwood, Arizona, and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.