Four U.S. Representatives Wednesday introduced legislation that would alter the RFS by eliminating corn-based ethanol requirements, capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10%, and requiring the EPA to set cellulosic biofuels levels at production levels.
Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Jim Costa, D-Calif. and Peter Welch, D-Vt., announced the "RFS Reform Act" with the support of more than 40 consumer and agricultural organizations.
According to 2013 Renewable Fuels Standard requirements, 13.9 billion gallons of ethanol should be blended into gasoline in 2013 – a value that livestock groups say puts too much pressure on corn supplies.
"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," said National Cattlemen's Beef Association Policy Vice Chair Craig Uden.
NCBA and the National Pork Producers Council last fall urged the EPA to waive the RFS in light of extreme drought conditions and concerns that the corn supply would be able to handle pressure from ethanol markets and livestock feeders.
"It is clear, when EPA is unable to provide even a temporary waiver of the RFS during the worst drought in 70 years to assure adequate feed and food supplies, that something is broken and needs to be fixed," said NPPC President Randy Spronk.
The National Chicken Council, too, has said that corn supplies are not ready to handle the increased demand from ethanol markets. NCC President Mike Brown noted that from the view of the NCC, the RFS artificially inflates the price of corn and the new legislation, he says, levels the playing field by "embracing free market principles."
But ethanol advocates aren't so sure about the arguments of livestock producers. Jeff Broin, Co-chairman of the Board for ethanol group Growth Energy, said in a press call Wednesday that corn prices are changing partly due to loss of government subsidies for grain production.