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PICKET: Turkey farmers to EPA - You're killing us

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Although Thanksgiving is upon us, farmers who make a living off the livestock, that will find its way to millions of American dinner tables on Thursday, are expressing frustration towards the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest decisions.

According to a November 16 press statement from the National Turkey Federation:(bolding is mine)

A coalition of livestock, poultry and dairy organizations today expressed extreme disappointment with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s denial in the wake of the worst drought in more than half a century of requests that it waive a federal law that requires corn to be turned into ethanol for gasoline.

The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requires 13.8 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be blended into gasoline in 2013, an amount that will use about 4.5 billion bushels of the nation’s corn crop, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We are extremely frustrated and discouraged that EPA chose to ignore the clear economic argument from tens of thousands of family farmers and livestock and poultry producers that the food-to-fuel policy is causing and will cause severe harm to regions in which those farmers and producers operate,” the coalition said.

In fact, dozens of poultry, pork, beef and dairy operations have filed for bankruptcy, been sold or simply gone out of business over the past several months because of rising feed grain prices.

“How many more jobs and family farms have to be lost before we change this misguided policy and create a level playing field on the free market for the end users of corn?” the coalition asked. “It is now abundantly clear that this law is broken, and we will explore remedies to fix it.”

USDA’s Nov. 9 crop report puts this year’s corn harvest at just 10.7 billion bushels, down 13 percent from last year and down 28 percent from USDA’s May projection. The ethanol industry will use more than 40 percent of the corn supply next year.

 Free Beacon reported last week, when the EPA released its decision to deny the waiver, that the decision is “good news for biofuel producers but a disappointment for the oil sector, which has long opposed the fuel mandate.” The effects of mandate will likely be felt even beyond the fuel and livestock industry and will hit consumers’ wallets.  

Despite the EPA’s insistence that their decision to deny the waiver will not spike corn prices, Marlo Lewis writes at National Review that the EPA set a “virtually impossible” standard for the petitioners for the waiver to meet.

“The EPA stated petitioners would have to show that the “RFS itself” was the cause of severe harm, not merely a “contributing” factor. In addition, petitioners would have to show that waiving the RFS would be a “remedy” for the hardship facing livestock producers,” wrote Lewis.

The NTF noted that when Congress expanded the RFS in 2007, “safety valves” were implemented in the law. “One provision allows the EPA administrator to reduce the required volume of renewable fuel in any year based on severe harm to the economy or environment of a state, a region or the United States. 

This year, a bipartisan group of 34 Senators and 156 House members and 9 governors petitioned the EPA to grant a waiver because the ethanol mandate, along with the drought, caused severe financial harm. Congress added the 2007  “safety valves” for this purpose.

“Unfortunately, EPA chose to ignore all of them by issuing a decision that is going to cost more American jobs, put family farmers and ranchers out of business, create an animal feed crisis and cause food costs to soar in the coming months,” the coalition concluded.

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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