Corn and Cattle Groups Disagree Over Changing RFS

Cindy Zimmerman

Corn growers and cattle producers are at odds over new legislation introduced in the House that would change the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2).

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Costa (D-CA), would allow Congress to reduce the RFS requirement for ethanol whenever corn stocks are tight.

Speaking on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) during a press conference announcing the legislation, California beef cattle producer Kevin Kester said it would provide relief from tight corn supplies.

“Cattlemen are not opposed to ethanol and we’re not looking for cheap corn. We simply want the federal government to get out of the marketplace and allow the market to work,” Kester said.

Officials with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) say the measure would significantly weaken the RFS. “The U.S. ethanol industry is an integral part of job creation and economic opportunity throughout rural America,” NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, an Illinois corn grower, said. “This legislation would put progress made by the ethanol industry in jeopardy and we are asking members of Congress to oppose its passage.”

The RFS came into effect in 2005 and was reauthorized and expanded in 2007 to require the use of 12.6 billion gallons of corn ethanol this year and 13.2 billion gallons in 2012, topping out at 15 billion gallons in 2015.

The Goodlatte-Costa bill would require a reduction in the RFS when the stocks-to-use ratio drops below 10 percent, up to a 50 percent reduction if the ratio falls below 5 percent. Under the current corn supply, the reduction would be 15-25 percent.

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