Several House lawmakers have indicated they will introduce legislation to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard. The intent, they say, is to "help ease concerns created by the ethanol mandate and protect consumers, energy producers, livestock producers, food manufacturers, retailers and the U.S. economy."
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council have urged Congress to reform the biofuels mandate.
Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), are the chief sponsors of the legislation.
The RFS last year required 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline; it mandates that 13.9 billion gallons be blended in 2013, an amount that will use about 4.9 billion bushels of corn, or about 40% of the nation's crop.
NCBA and NPPC last fall called on lawmakers to make changes to the RFS, following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's refusal to use the safety valve built into it to waive the biofuels mandate in the wake of a severe drought that drastically cut the corn crop.
"Cattlemen and women are self-reliant, but in order to maintain that we cannot be asked to compete with federal mandates like the Renewable Fuels Standard for the limited supply of feed grains," says NCBA Policy Vice Chairman Craig Uden, a cattle feeder producer from Elwood. "In light of the worst drought to hit our country in over 50 years and the ever increasing renewable mandates, we are seeing many of our members not only failing to profit, but taking a loss."
"It is clear, when EPA is unable to provide even a temporary waiver of the RFS during the drought to assure adequate feed and food supplies, that something is broken and needs to be fixed," said Randy Spronk, NPPC president Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, Minn. "We applaud Congress, and especially Congressmen Goodlatte, Costa, Womack and Welch, for beginning this long overdue conversation on the RFS and for offering reasonable solutions to address problems associated with that mandate. We need to reform the RFS."
NCBA and NPPC said they want a reform bill that ensures market stability, feed availability and the long-term sustainability of rural American economies.