Wrong on the Renewable Fuels Standard and Congressman Goodlatte

goodlattefourinBy John King

Your editorial (Bob Goodlatte’s latest payback to “Big Oil” at Virginia’s expense, February 5) wrongly contends that Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s desire to repeal or reform the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which mandates the blending of corn-based ethanol with gasoline, is harmful to his constituents.

You cite a study saying that renewable fuels support 1,274 jobs and generate $39.7 million in wages annually in Rep. Goodlatte’s Sixth Congressional District.

A new economic impact study shows that poultry industry operations – upon which the RFS has had a detrimental effect by artificially escalating our feed costs by more than $70 billion nationally since around 2007 – support more than 12,000 jobs in the Sixth District and annual wages of more than $495 million with a total economic impact of more than $4.2 billion.  In addition to hurting hundreds of farm families and thousands of people with jobs related to the poultry industry, all of Rep. Goodlatte’s constituents have been hit with higher grocery bills due to the food inflation caused by the misguided federal policy of diverting some 40 percent of our annual corn crop to our gas tanks as ethanol.

The Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative is the only Virginia based poultry company where all the profits stay here in the Commonwealth.  With feed comprising 70 percent of production costs, the massive spikes in corn and soybean prices since the RFS was enacted have put some poultry companies out of business.  Our farmer-owned cooperative has been able to survive but operated at a loss in 2013 following the historic drought of 2012, forcing us to cut production by 20 percent during that time and placing a tremendous financial strain upon the Cooperative’s farm family members.

While feed costs have moderated somewhat due to two consecutive bumper crops, we are only one short crop away from the devastating price increases and volatility that will occur as a result of the RFS.  This inevitable volatility in the grain market, caused by the RFS, makes it difficult for the Cooperative and our farmer members to plan proactively and invest in the growth of our operations.

The assertion that Rep. Goodlatte’s motivation is to help “Big Oil” is absurd.  It’s not payback to Big Oil, it’s a payback to environmental groups, livestock and poultry farmers, anti-hunger groups, engine, boat and equipment manufacturers, taxpayer advocates, food producers, restaurants, and anyone else who eats.

John King is the general manager of the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative.


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