Cattlemen Oppose Increase in Grain-Based Ethanol Mandate
WASHINGTON - Late last night, the U.S. Senate voted 65-27 in favor of comprehensive energy legislation - H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) supports efforts to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable and alternative energy resources. But NCBA cannot support the proposed increase in mandates for corn-based ethanol. This legislation mandates 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels from feedgrain products by 2015.
“Sky-high mandates for feedgrain-based ethanol are not the solution,” says Jay Truitt, NCBA vice president of government affairs. “We already have strong mandates, major incentives for feedgrain-based ethanol production, and a corn ethanol industry that is growing at an astounding pace.”
NCBA opposes any increase above 7.5 billion gallons for feedgrain-based ethanol mandates. Currently, the Renewable Fuels Standard requirements, which passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, require at least 7.5 billion gallons of production by 2012.
“A 15 billion gallon Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for feedgrain-based ethanol will deal a serious blow to cattle producers if we experience anything short of a record corn crop year after year,” says Truitt. “An incredible 5.4 billion bushels of corn - roughly equal to 43 percent of projected 2007 U.S. corn production - would be needed to produce the 15 billion gallons of feedgrain-based ethanol proposed.”
Use of ethanol fuels has tripled over the past five years. NCBA is urging a market-based approach for ethanol production and greater use of ethanol derived from products other than feedgrains.
“NCBA supports segmenting the RFS by fuel source,” says Truitt. “Cellulosic ethanol production does not rely on feedgrains. Therefore, it can offer new energy production opportunities to cattle producers with a negligible impact on grain prices. We urge that greater policy emphasis be placed on development of cellulosic fuels.”
Truitt applauded Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) for her leadership in successfully including a study in the legislation that will assess the impact these high mandates could have on the producers of feedgrains, food, livestock, and energy.
NCBA also appreciates the efforts of Senators James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) on behalf of the beef industry. Senators Cornyn and Roberts were cosponsors of the Hutchison amendment, while Senator Inhofe advocated an amendment that would have provided a safety net for beef producers in the event of a short corn crop. Unfortunately, the Inhofe amendment was defeated on a technical budget point of order.
NCBA will continue to engage on this issue as the House of Representatives now turns to comprehensive energy legislation.