EPA Condemns Cattle Farmers to Corn-less Future

On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency denied a formal request from several governors to waive the federal ethanol mandate.  CQ (sub. req’d) explains:

EPA’s review was triggered by formal requests by Democratic Govs. Mike Beebe of Arkansas and Bev Perdue of North Carolina in August to lower the mandate, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. At the time, the worst U.S. drought since 1956 dominated the headlines and the Agriculture Department was forecasting a reduced fall harvest of corn. The livestock and ethanol industries are among the biggest users of field corn and the forecast of tight supplies led to higher feed prices.

The EPA’s denial continues a pattern of incoherent policy within the Obama Administration.  In July, Agriculture Secretary complained, “producers [now] have to decide if they want to take the risk of continuing to feed expensive corn to animals, when they can’t be sure what prices they’ll receive months down the road.”  But even though a waiver could have resulted in a nearly 25% reduction in corn prices, Vilsack said, “This is not the time to take advantage of the drought to change the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

EPA summarized their denial:  “[T]he evidence does not support making a determination that implementation of the RFS volume requirements during this time period would severely harm the economy of a State, region, or the United States.”

If the Obama Administration believes the “hardship” created by the drought is not substantial enough to justify the temporary suspension of a costly and destructive Washington mandate, it should drop all its demands for a farm bill coupled with emergency drought legislation.  Anything less would be hypocritical.


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