(Posted Fri. Dec 6th, 2013)
Dec. 6: At a day-long public hearing that ran into late Thursday night in Washington, dozens of corn growers and other supporters of ethanol raised their voices about the potential for grave economic impacts should the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency slash the amount of corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard next year.
In his testimony, National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Chip Bowling, who drove up to the capital from his Maryland farm, stressed how the proposal runs counter to the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.
“As the organization that represents the nation’s corn farmers, we were extremely angry after hearing the proposed 2014 RFS volume obligations,” he said. “The EPA’s latest proposed rule has undercut exactly what the system was designed to do, which was to move the market towards the production and consumption of ethanol, and away from oil’s monopoly.”
Bowling also cited the fact that the EPA’s proposal states that the objective is to “put the RFS program on a manageable trajectory while supporting continued growth in renewable fuels over time,” and found that contradicted by the proposal itself.
“How do you propose to continue to grow the renewable fuels market, while cutting it at the same time? This proposed cut also will negatively influence investors who will be less likely to fund future innovations for second generation biofuels.”
Among the growers testifying at the hearing, dairy farmer Mark Thomas of Ohio stressed the impact on his farm of the proposal.
“We in the agriculture industry need access to all the markets for our products that we can get, and rolling back the RFS just opens the door for a massive oversupply of corn, artificially cheapening it and that will hurt all of us,” he said. “Does anyone remember the challenges of 2009 that the livestock and dairy industry had, when we had the privilege of working 24/7 to lose a ton of money and equity and were exhausted and depleted? This was a result of too cheap of inputs leading to an oversupply of milk and other commodities crashing the markets and creating one of the most challenging years of my farming life.”
He also noted that supporting strong markets for corn products for ethanol makes sense when one considers the current farm bill debate.
“I feel strongly that changing the Renewable Fuel Standard will create an atmosphere allowing for an oversupply of milk, beef, pork and poultry and once again make it hard to make a decent living in agriculture. As we all know, the farm bill expired in September, and it is clear we cannot depend on farm programs to keep our industry afloat in these tough years of oversupply, we need our markets to keep growing.”
For more information on the EPA’s proposal and how to respond to it, visit www.ncga.com/rfs.