At an Environmental Protection Agency hearing to discuss proposed decreases for the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard volume obligations, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association offered comments in support of the proposal.
NCBA past president Steve Foglesong, Astoria, Ill., testified on behalf of the NCBA.
"I am a corn farmer, I just choose to feed it to cattle, it's value added," said Foglesong. "It's not that different from the ethanol industry who takes corn to feed it into their plants and produce ethanol, dried distillers grain, and carbon dioxide instead of beef. The process is identical, all but the RFS mandate, which gives the ethanol industry an advantage in purchasing corn.
"We're not opposed to corn ethanol, but it's time to look at reforming the RFS and let the market pick winners and losers instead of the government," he said.
EPA's proposed rule would reduce the 2014 RFS volume obligations for conventional corn-based ethanol by 1.39 billion gallons. The hearing was an opportunity for all stakeholders to share their view on the proposed rule.
"NCBA supports the EPA's proposed rule as it's a step in the right direction, but more still needs to be done to level the playing field for all users of corn," said Foglesong. "There is still work to do and we will continue to work with Congress to bring reform to the RFS."
During the 2002-2003 marketing year, the USDA estimated that corn use for ethanol production accounted for 10% of the total U.S. corn usage. Today, roughly 42% of the corn crop goes into ethanol production to meet the RFS mandate. Over the past four years, the average cost to grain finish a market steer has increased by more than $200 per head, NCBA said.
"These costs are not sustainable for a segment of our industry that relies on corn," said Foglesong. "Last year, when state governors were denied a waiver of the RFS in light of the worst drought in over 50 years, it became evident that the RFS needs to be fixed."