Consumers and Farmers Speak Out For Renewable Fuels

Farmers and consumers lock horns with Big Oil over EPA's proposal to cut ethanol use in blended gasoline by 10%. Comment period ends Jan. 28.

Published on: Jan 24, 2014

The people have spoken – and how! So has 'Big Oil'. Now, which audience will U.S. EPA finally favor?

Hundreds of farmers and the thousands of allies around the country submitted comments urging EPA to retract its proposed 10% ethanol cut in the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard, reports Keven Anderson, president of Maryland Grain Producers Association and an Eastern Shore Maryland grain producer.

"There's been a terrific grassroots response from growers and consumers alike," says Anderson. "Consumers don't want to see higher gas prices at the pump nor a greater dependency on foreign oil any more than we farmers want to lose our markets, forcing a decline to affecting our local economy.

CORN SUPPLY BALANCING OUT: Ethanol is still important to holding down fuel costs and cleaning up the environment, contends Kevin Anderson. Market forces (more corn production, worldwide) and lower corn prices are already improving livestock and poultry margins.
CORN SUPPLY BALANCING OUT: Ethanol is still important to holding down fuel costs and cleaning up the environment, contends Kevin Anderson. Market forces (more corn production, worldwide) and lower corn prices are already improving livestock and poultry margins.

"We urge those who have not yet spoken out, to do so today," he adds. Deadline for filing comments with EPA closes on January 28.

RFS is the federal law that helps get domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning ethanol blended in the nation's fuel supply. Congress established it to decrease use of crude oil and reliance on a foreign supply in favor of cleaner, renewable fuels.

The RFS has provided flexibility to the oil industry as to when and where they use renewable fuels. But it also stipulated that they gradually increase ethanol use.

Ethanol has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, decreased reliance on foreign oil, lowered gasoline prices for consumers, increased economic stability in rural America and spurred innovation in advanced and cellulosic biofuels. But the petroleum industry isn't keen on it.

Poultry companies, too, have been urging their growers to oppose the RFS, says Anderson. Record-high corn prices over the last two years due to Midwest drought were the reason.

Now, the U.S. is moving back to more normal corn supply, and significantly lower corn prices. "Prices at or below production costs hurt our farm economies and can result in less grain produced next season. That's detrimental to both poultry and grain farmers," contends the Princess Anne, Md., producer. "Poultry and grain farmers are dependent on each other, and we need to support each other."

The petro industry 'push'
The American Petroleum Institute has initiated a deceptive "robocall" campaign that left pre-recorded messages on voicemails across the country, even on farmers' phones, according to National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre. It urges support of the RFS cutbacks.

"It's not surprising Big Oil is feeling the heat," adds this Illinois corn grower. "But if they think that harassing farm families with impersonal dinnertime calls is a smart tactic, we're happy to see them waste their money."

"There's no reason to cut ethanol and create the potential for economic havoc when we've got an abundance of corn," adds Barbre. "Farmers and consumers should not pay the price for the oil industry's reluctance to move forward and embrace a cleaner, smarter fuel future."

For more information on how to send comments to EPA, visit www.ncga.com/rfs.