January 14, 2014

A letter to EPA from concerned corn farmers


IMG_3265The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to bend to the whims of the oil industry and cut back on the amount of corn ethanol in our nation's fuel supply by 1.4 billion gallons in 2014 as prescribed by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress.

EPA apparently believes that continuing our reliance on the petroleum industry is a good thing. And some of this may be influenced by misinformed media stories about how corn farmers meeting the increased demand for corn.

Recently, we've seen misleading news stories accusing farmers of turning conservation reserve program—or CRP land—into corn production to meet ethanol demand. Here's the truth: As part of the 2008 Farm Bill, the cap on CRP acreage was dropped from 39.2 million acres to 31.3 million beginning in 2010. So CRP enrollments fell. It had nothing to do with ethanol.

Farmers have responded to the increased demand for corn by producing more. And we're not plowing up virgin land to do it. We're simply changing what we plant on the acres we already have—based on market conditions.

Ethanol has been blamed for an increase in food prices, due to higher corn prices. First, higher corn prices have been driven primarily by two years of drought, not ethanol demand.

Second, corn comprises a small percentage of the cost of a food product. For example, you would think that the highest cost in a box of corn flakes would be the corn itself, right? In fact, at today's prices, the amount of corn in an 18-ounce box of corn flakes is just six cents. That's right—six cents.

As corn prices have recently headed downward toward $4 a bushel—very near the cost of production for us corn farmers—American consumers have not seen a corresponding decline in food prices. So it's pretty clear that ethanol and corn prices have not been the culprit they've been made out to be.

When we make ethanol out of corn, we also make livestock feed to create protein for human consumption and a variety of human food ingredient such as corn oil. So we're not just making fuel—we're making feed and food as well. That's critical in Nebraska, where corn, cattle and ethanol combine to create a "golden triangle" of economic strength and added value all across the state.

The RFS is one of the most successful federal initiatives in recent history. It has done exactly what it was designed to do: reduce our reliance on imported oil, re-energize our rural economy, lower fuel prices, increase choices at the pump, improve air quality and create jobs.

If you agree that EPA is overstepping its authority—and that maintaining our nation's commitment to renewable fuels is a good thing—share your comment with EPA today. We have until January 28, 2014 to comment—and you can do so by visiting NebraskaCorn.org.


Tim Scheer
Nebraska Corn Board
St. Paul, Nebraska
dont gut the rfs

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