Poultry producers are getting some help from several governors in their call for the EPA to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), but officials with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) say the RFS is working, and no waiver is needed. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has joined Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue in asking for the waiver (see Deal’s letter here). The EPA has posted the notice in the Federal Register and is accepting public comments for the next 30 days. A decision would come within 90 days.
The poultry industry backs the waiver request, with the National Chicken Council saying, “it is now abundantly clear that severe economic damage has occurred, and will continue, as a result of the RFS’ strain on the corn supply that has been exacerbated by the worst drought in more than 50 years.” Their colleagues at the National Turkey Federation agree. In an interview, the group’s president Joel Brandenberger says that lawmakers created the waiver just for disastrous droughts. “If this isn’t such a situation, you would have to conclude that the waiver process as written is worthless.”
But the RFA points out there are an estimated 2.5 billion RFS credits accumulated over the past two years as a result of ethanol blending above RFS requirements. Officials point out that gives oil refiners extraordinary flexibility to meet RFS targets. “Together with ample ethanol supplies and slower than expected gasoline consumption, these credits make the RFS workable through the 2012/2013 corn marketing year.”
Brandenberger asserts that it is the standard combined with the drought creating tight supplies that is pushing up prices. “The [RFS] has been distorting the corn market from the first day it was created in 2005.” But the RFA counters that this will still be the eighth-largest corn crop in U.S. history, and globally, the second-largest ever. And the group also points to the large amount of animal feed made from ethanol production. “One-third of every bushel used by an ethanol plant is returned to the feed market as high-protein feed. Ignoring this exaggerates the impact of ethanol on corn supplies,” the RFA stated.
Listen to my interview with Brandenberger here: Interview with Joel Brandenberger, President, National Turkey Federation