The Environmental Protection Agency's Friday announcement of a proposed rule to lower the amount of renewable fuels that must be blended into the fuel supply for 2014 is a welcome development, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
"NCBA, our cattle producers … we think of this as a great step in the right direction," said Kristina Butts, NCBA executive director of government affairs, in an NCBA interview this week. "But we definitely don't think that this goes far enough."
The NCBA has previously campaigned for a waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates, citing costs to livestock producers during the drought of 2012. Butts says, however, that the NCBA is not seen as one of the constituencies that must be taken into account for energy policy – one of the reasons why the request for a waiver was denied last year.
The recent announcement, however, sends a message that the EPA knows the RFS policy as written is broken, Butts says.
"We do think that many members on the hill realize that the policies do need to be revised – they've been in place since 2005," Butts explained. "A lot of things have changed in the energy market but just in the world itself and when you have government policy that's dictating the number one user of corn to go to ethanol before it can go to any other user, that's government policy picking one industry over the other."
Butts says that's a main reason why the NCBA isn't happy with current policy, though she clarified that NCBA is not opposed to the ethanol industry as a whole, especially because producers can purchase distillers grain to feed to cattle.
"It's the policy that's creating the problem within the livestock industry," she said, noting that NCBA is willing to bring together all voices on a solution.
"Let's figure out where this policy can be workable," she said, "and let's put this whole conversation behind us."
News source: NCBA