You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Cattlemen dealt another blow; first drought, now EPA denies waiver
Feedlot operators across the nation who use corn in their feed rations are stunned, after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nov. 16 denied the Renewable Fuels Standard waiver request for such operations.
A coalition consisting of seven governors, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry; 180 members of Congress; and livestock groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, sent letters in support of the waiver.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, “... corn production is forecast at 10.7 billion bushels ... down 13 percent from 2011. This represents the lowest production in the United States since 2006.” If the expected yield averages 122.3 bushels per acre, “this will be the lowest average yield since 1995.”
This is the second time a waiver was denied. The first time, in 2008, Perry filed for the state, to no avail.
The coalition is concerned about the inadequate domestic supply of corn to meet the needs for the production of ethanol as mandated by the government, to fill the need of livestock operators, and to be able to continue to export to other countries. The demand and shortage, in turn, have caused the price of corn to soar to record levels, causing an economic strain on ag producers.
In a Nov. 16 press release, the EPA, using “economic analyses and modeling done in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy, ... has not found evidence to support a finding of severe ‘economic harm.’”
According to a Sept. 25 Congressional Research Service report, the waiver is included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to promote biofuels, including ethanol, in the U.S. fuel supply. Since its implementation, U.S. ethanol production rose from 3.9 billion gallons in 2005 to 14 billion gallons in 2011. For this production, 5 billion bushels of corn, or 40 percent of the 2011 crop, was used.
The congressional report included data on the severity of the drought that plagued the United States in 2012.
Corn prices of $5.30 per bushel in July 2012 soon rose to above $8 per bushel in mid-August, and since have dropped by 50 cents per bushel. In turn, cattle feedlot operators faced increased prices for corn, which could lead to higher meat prices at the meat counter.
“We recognize that this year’s drought has created hardship in some sectors of the economy, particularly for livestock producers,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, after the ruling.
If the EPA had granted the waiver, corn prices would be reduced only by approximately 1 percent, while household energy costs would not be impacted, the report said.
As the government made its decisions, different groups weighed in with their concerns.
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association commented after the waiver announcement was made.
“It is truly unbelievable that a government agency would ignore the fact that we are facing a dire corn shortage in this country,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
“The EPA had an opportunity to show their support, in some regard, of the U.S. cattle industry,” Parker said. “Instead, they continue to put our food and fuel in competition with one another by giving one commodity a leg-up at the expense of another. Chalk this up to another instance in a long line of examples that demonstrates that the government, particularly the EPA, does not support the cattle industry or the free market.”
Bob McCan, another cattleman from Texas who also serves as the vice president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), also raised concerns in an Aug. 24 NCBA press release.
“Texas is the largest beef cattle state in the country. ... it’s evident that cattlemen and women nationwide are continuing to experience the negative effects of this drought.”
Yet another cattleman, Jim Peters, chairman of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, said in the Aug. 24 NCBA release, “I’m not sure how anyone could still believe that the RFS [Renewable Fuels Standard] isn’t a market-distorting government policy that props up the ethanol industry at the expense of livestock producers and consumers.”
The National Corn Growers Association, however, voiced its support of the EPA’s decision in a Nov. 16 press release.
“... petitioners did not properly prove severe nationwide economic harm had occurred, thereby creating no justification for a waiver of the RFS [Renewable Fuels Standards],” said National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson. “The ethanol industry plays a pivotal role in job creation throughout the country supporting over 400,000 jobs nationwide. This includes many in ethanol plants in rural America. The RFS advances the use of domestically produced renewable fuels, encourages new technologies, and enhances U.S. energy independence.”
See related article, 7A, for more on this issue.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Agriculture Today Archives
Bull Classic Dec. 5 (November 25, 2015)
Davidson: Reduce antibiotic use, dispel beef myths (November 25, 2015)
EPA proposes changes to pesticide applicator rules (November 25, 2015)
Farm Bureau responds to beef cancer claims (November 25, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (November 25, 2015)
Livestock disaster funding available (November 25, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (November 25, 2015)
Llama competitors shine in state, national shows (November 25, 2015)
Plan to attend grazing lands conference (November 25, 2015)
Plant cool weather veggies (November 25, 2015)
Rancher’s Choice bull sale Dec. 5 (November 25, 2015)
Skills team places sixth (November 25, 2015)
TPWD announces annual trout stocking (November 25, 2015)
All Breed Bull Sale Nov. 21 in Nixon (November 18, 2015)
Clean Water Rule continues to make waves in Congress (November 18, 2015)
Conservation Service: Tips for planting winter pastures (November 18, 2015)
County committee elections begin (November 18, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (November 18, 2015)
Here’s the beef: Patterson wins FFA national title (November 18, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (November 18, 2015)
Moczygemba: Angus group CEO (November 18, 2015)
Onion recommendations (November 18, 2015)
A river runs through it: River changes spark border dispute (November 11, 2015)
Cold-sensitive oriental hibiscus (November 11, 2015)
Gov. Abbott: EPA’s Clean Power Plan is ‘power grab’ (November 11, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (November 11, 2015)
Knowles winner of mule deer hunt package (November 11, 2015)
Letter: A war on Texas: Bureau of Land Management vs. Texas ranchers (November 11, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (November 11, 2015)
Palo Alto College hosts FFA leadership conference (November 11, 2015)
Rodeo athletes place in Hallettsville contest (November 11, 2015)
‘Old Iron’ club show canceled! (November 11, 2015)
Antique Farm Equipment Demonstration and Field Day, Nov. 14 (November 4, 2015)
Cattlemen’s seminar Nov. 14 in Kosciusko (November 4, 2015)
Hay & Forage Report (November 4, 2015)
Impacts of rural land loss (November 4, 2015)
Livestock Market Reports (November 4, 2015)
Rain can be blessing, curse for farmers (November 4, 2015)
Ranch Rodeo fun in Nixon (November 4, 2015)
Ranching event set for Nov. 11 in Panna Maria (November 4, 2015)
Tips for spraying broccoli, cabbage (November 4, 2015)
Wet winter, spring is good news for hunters (November 4, 2015)
November 2015 Gardening Calendar (November 1, 2015)