The Ethanol Promotion and Information Council has gathered data from multiple sources that debunk claims that America’s renewable fuels are a large player in soaring food prices. Toni Nuernberg, the Executive Director of EPIC wants to spread the word that changing the nation’s renewable fuels standard is not the answer to driving down global food costs.
Recent calls to reduce the renewable fuels standard (RFS) seem like an easy and immediate fix to world food shortages. However, the factors influencing global food prices and supplies are a result of converging global production and demand issues that go far beyond corn-based ethanol. Changing U.S. energy policy will not provide short-term relief on the food supply and decrease food prices as many expect. In fact, relaxing the renewable fuels standard mandate actually may escalate food prices now and in the future by driving fuel prices even higher.
Across the country, including 10 percent ethanol in gasoline has held the price per gallon down by $.15 to $.45 depending on the region of the country, as highlighted in recent studies in Missouri. Reducing ethanol requirements by 50 percent removes 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol from the fuel supply. This will reduce the total fuel supply, causing transportation, fertilizer, fuel, packaging and other food production costs to continue to increase, further inflating the price of food.
Long-term, repealing or suspending the 2007 Energy Policy Act is unnecessary, as technologies in use today and on the horizon will enable American farmers to increase productivity per acre to meet demands for food and this mandate, potentially with the same or fewer inputs than used today.
For many, it is easy to look past the primary factor wreaking havoc with the global economy — namely exorbitant oil prices which have increased from $35 in 2005 to more than $110 today — nearly 300 percent.
Globally, today’s energy prices are a disincentive to food production, as third world countries simply can’t afford to develop agriculture systems and, therefore, their ability to feed themselves.
Corn-based ethanol, while not a silver bullet, is the foundation upon which the next generation of “advanced biofuels” is being built.
The industry is fueling research into cellulosic ethanol produced from feedstocks such as switch grass and other non-edible renewable biomass. Corn-based ethanol is a solution that is here now, available in our current infrastructure and making a difference in the price of fuel.