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Coalition Applauds EPA Decision to Lower Ethanol 2014 Requirements

19 November 2013

US - Last week (15 November), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed 2014 renewable fuel (RFS) standard that will require refiners to blend up to 15.21 billion gallons of biofuels into gasoline next year, which represents the first-ever reduction in a biofuels mandate that Congress created during the George W. Bush administration.

The conventional fuel mandate (corn-based ethanol) would be 13.0 billion gallons rather than the originally required 14.4 billion gallons.

“EPA’s announcement today is a good first and welcome step, but ultimately, Congress must act. Congressional action to repeal the RFS remains the most viable pathway to allowing all users of corn to have equal standing in the marketplace,” said NCC President Mike Brown.

“As corn comprises nearly 70 per cent of the feed given to chickens, our single largest input cost, rising prices directly affect farmers and consumers bottom lines. Since the RFS was aggressively escalated in 2007, average annual feed costs have skyrocketed by $8.8 billion for poultry producers. Last year, the average US family of four faced a $2,000 increase in food costs due to higher corn prices brought on largely by the RFS. We know all too well from last year that corn crop projections and inventories can be erased by Mother Nature’s wrath.”

The action marked the first time EPA has lowered the overall ethanol-blending requirement from the prior year’s target. The move lowers the mandate from the 2013 required volume, 16.55 billion gallons, back to where it was in 2012. The agency is taking comments on a range of 15.00 to 15.52 billion gallons in its proposal. Congress sets the renewable fuels volume mandates, but EPA can administratively lower the requirement in certain situations.

EPA’s proposed 2014 renewable fuel standard rule relies on a legal provision that allows it to lower its advanced biofuels and total renewable fuel targets using two waiver authorities in the Clean Air Act, EPA said today. The first waiver authority allows the agency to lower the advanced biofuel volume mandate because of a shortage in available supply of cellulosic biofuels. The second waiver allows EPA to lower the overall renewable fuel requirements because of limits on the volume “of ethanol that can be consumed in gasoline given practical constraints on the supply of higher ethanol blends to the vehicles that can use them and other limits on ethanol blend levels in gasoline.”

In addition, NCC joined a coalition* of livestock and poultry groups in releasing the following statement: “We appreciate this action as it acknowledges a problem exists with the current policy. The inflexible RFS mandate continues to have a detrimental impact on the economy and makes feeding animals risky because our industries are not competing on a level playing field. Today is a step in the right direction, however, it is the responsibility of the Congress to find a lasting solution to this rigid, inflexible program and put livestock and poultry producers back on equal standing in the marketplace.”

*American Feed Industry Association, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industries, California Dairy Campaign, California Dairies Inc., Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Producers of Utah, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Milk Producers Council, North American Meat Association, National Cattlemen Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, Nevada State Dairy Commission, Northwest Dairy Association/ Darigold, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, South East Dairy Farmers Association, Southeast Milk, Inc, Washington State Dairy Federation, Western United Dairymen

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