Add Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to those calling on the EPA to waive the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). In a letter to the EPA (available from the National Chicken Council website), Deal joins Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue asking for the waiver because of the impact the drought is having on corn. 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.
One of the biggest backers of the waiver has been the poultry industry. In a news release, the National Chicken Council says “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 with AgWired, 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.” Brandenberger says the premise behind the waiver is pretty simple: it will reduce the amount of corn used to make ethanol, and thus, reduce the amount of overall corn used, leading to lower prices.
Poultry folks make no effort to hide their dislike of the RFS, with Brandenberger asserting that it is the standard combined with the drought that is pushing up prices. “The [RFS] has been distorting the corn market from the first day it was created in 2005,” adding that everyone who uses corn … including ethanol makers … could benefit from a more realistic market price. He also says it unfair for the government to mandate the use of a product, such as corn, for one user, while not guaranteeing markets for others. “As one of my members said, ‘There’s no federal mandate that everyone has to throw a turkey in their basket every time they go to the supermarket.’ We’d really like to get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers.”
Listen to my interview with Brandenberger here: Interview with Joel Brandenberger, President, National Turkey Federation