As a historic drought worsens across much of the nation, pressure is building on the Obama administration to alter federal mandates that could claim as much as 40 percent of this year’s plummeting corn crop for ethanol production.
But some, including the National Corn Growers Association and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the nation’s top corn-producing state, say calls for a temporary suspension of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are ill-advised.
“I would suggest that those claiming the sky is falling withhold their call for waiving or repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Mr. Grassley said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “It’s a premature action that will not produce the desired result.”
Instituted during the George W. Bush administration, the RFS mandates blending billions of gallons of corn ethanol with gasoline each year.
In 2012, the law calls for 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol to be combined with gasoline, requiring about 4.7 billion bushels of corn.
Initial estimates put this year’s expected corn crop at nearly 14 billion bushels, but the projections have dropped dramatically as the drought has continued to blanket much of the country.
The Agriculture Department on Wednesday designated another 218 counties in 12 states as disaster areas, adding to what already has become one of the widest, worst dry spells in decades.
It’s led many analysts to reduce corn crop expectations below 12 billion bushels. Subsequently, corn prices have shot up by more than 50 percent over the past two months as growers fear much of their crops will be lost.