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Biofuel rule puts turkey farmers in fret over corn costs

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Turkey farmers say a federal mandate to produce a certain amount of biofuel has left them scrambling to turn a profit, because corn costs over the years have skyrocketed and feed prices soared.

The Renewable Fuel Standard mandates refiners make a certain level of biofuel — the most common being ethanol, derived from corn. Alternative fuel critics warned years ago that using corn for fuel would drive up food prices. And here we are, The Hill reported. If turkey farmers have to pay more to feed their fowl, then consumers will have to pay more to buy their products.

"There's got to be more of a cost that is passed along somehow," said Keith Williams, a spokesman for the National Turkey Federation, in The Hill. "That's going to go to the consumer. It's increasing the food cost.

The biofuel mandate wove through Congress in 2005, as a means of reducing American dependence on overseas energy sources.

The NTF said feed accounts for roughly 70 percent of the consumer cost of each turkey. And one agricultural economist, Thomas Elam, said in The Hill that the ethanol mandates have hiked production costs $1.9 billion in the past few years.

But alternative fuel advocates say the turkey industry is selling a sob line.

"The turkey guys are selling a bunch of bologna, no kidding," said Geoff Cooper, the vice president of research and analysis with the Renewable Fuels Association, who told The Hill that corn prices are lower now than last year.

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