Hard-hit livestock and poultry producers petitioned the government on Monday to reduce or cancel the required use of ethanol in gasoline for a year, asking for “a little help” to ride out the worst drought in 56 years.
The request for a first-ever waiver from the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s mandate, which in essence requires that more than a third of the U.S. corn harvest be converted into ethanol, comes as grain prices surge to record highs, driving up feed costs and squeezing profits for producers.
“We are having trouble buying corn… it’s really putting a burden on our operations and many others across the nation,” says J.D. Alexander, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, whose Nebraska feedlot is about half full of cattle. “It’s time to wean the ethanol industry and let it stand on its own.”
The EPA has not granted a waiver since the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) was enacted in 2007. The policy has enjoyed years of staunch bipartisan support, boosting income for U.S. farmers and helping reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. But it is now coming under renewed attack.