Livestock farmers and ranchers seeing their feed costs rise because of the worst drought in a quarter-century are demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency waive production requirements for corn-based ethanol.
One-third of House members have also signed onto a letter urging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to relax ethanol production targets in light of corn supply concerns and spiking prices.
The EPA says it is working with the Agriculture Department and is keeping a close eye on crop estimates and how they might relate to the biofuel program. But so far, the Obama administration, citing ample ethanol supplies, sees no need for a waiver. That’s an opinion shared by corn growers — many of them in the presidential election battleground states of Iowa and Ohio — who continue to support the mandate.
“If not now, when?” Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork farmer, said of the EPA’s authority to defer the ethanol production requirement when it threatens to severely harm the economy of a state or region. “Everyone should feel the pain of rationing.”
Spronk, who is president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, said livestock producers will have to reduce their herds and flocks because feed is becoming scarce and too expensive. Cattlemen and chicken farmers have the same concern.