The National Corn Growers Association recently submitted comments on the impact of the Renewable Fuel Standard to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in response to their second white paper, “Agricultural Sector Impacts.” In these comments, NCGA addressed how the RFS affects commodity products including corn, agricultural output and economics, RFS flexibility, food prices, cellulosic feedstock and global impacts.
The comments began by noting that corn farmers have responded to the increased demand of ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard by producing more corn and doing so in a more environmentally friendly manner. “In the last 30 years, corn production has improved on all measures of resource efficiency, by decreasing per bushel: land use by 30 percent, soil erosion by 67 percent, irrigation by 53 percent, energy use by 43 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 36 percent.”
Comments also noted the energy security and environmental benefits attributable to the RFS. “RFS has increased national energy security by creating a market for renewable fuel as a substitute for non-renewable petroleum-based fuel, thereby accelerating the nation’s progress toward a low greenhouse gas emissions economy. In addition, the RFS has contributed to the reduction of petroleum imports.”
The remainder of the comments directly addressed questions posed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about impacts of the RFS. Topics of particular interest included impacts attributable to the RFS on corn prices, food prices, job creation, economic growth and land use change. NCGA comments provided a detailed look at the myriad of factors involved in each area that are often overlooked in discussions about this standard including: the impact of export demand for soy from China; the direct impact of the drought on beef production; alternative models and theories concerning the idea of indirect land use change; the impact of rising global labor and diesel costs on food cost; and the inherent flexibility of the standard.