Bob Dinneen’s commentary (Bob Goodlatte and the Renewable Fuel Standard, March 24, 2014) on the federal ethanol mandate is one-sided and omits important information. He is correct that grain producers have benefited from a federal law that mandates the use of a product derived from grains. To corn farmers, $8/bushel corn is wonderful, even if artificially inflated. Not so wonderful is $8/bushel corn for poultry and livestock producers having to purchase it or consumers who have higher grocery bills.
Since the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) began impacting grain prices around 2007, the cost of feeding poultry in the U.S. has increased by more than $70 billion. Feed makes up 70 percent of poultry production costs. The competitive nature of poultry markets in the U.S. prevents producers from immediately passing these increased costs along to consumers. The result has been billions of dollars in economic losses within the poultry industry, leading to plant closures, farms going out of business, and the loss of thousands of vital jobs in rural communities. The artificially high cost is one thing, but equally devastating has been the volatility in corn prices.
Consumers’ wallets have been hit hard, too. In 2012, the average family of four saw about a $2,000 increase in food costs, due in large part to federal ethanol policies that divert corn from food and feed into our gas tanks.
No Member of Congress understands this better than Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District. Rep. Goodlatte has been a tireless advocate for reforming or repealing the corn ethanol mandate. Fortunately, Rep. Goodlatte is joined by increasing, bipartisan supporters in Congress to end or substantially reform the mandate. This is thanks in large part to a demand for reform from a broad and diverse spectrum of concerned parties: meat and poultry producers, food manufacturers, consumers concerned about food costs, hunger advocates, and environmental groups, among others. Thank you Rep. Goodlatte for being on the right side of this issue!
Hobey Bauhan is the president of the Virginia Poultry Federation