Food Industry, Perry Await July 24 Decision on Food-to-Fuel Waiver

Leaders from several food industry associations along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to approve his Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) waiver request, according to a June 24 press release.

Perry addressed an audience of food producers, environmentalists, and consumer advocates at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., who joined together to express their support for revisions to current policies that promote the conversion of food into fuel.

Perry reiterated his appeal to the agency to reduce this year's RFS in light of skyrocketing corn prices that have proved damaging to Texas' livestock and poultry industry.

"The Renewable Fuel Standard has distorted the market and has imposed severe economic harm on companies in our industry through dramatically higher input costs and is imposing harm on the general public in the form of higher prices for food products," said Bill Roenigk, senior vice president and chief economist of the National Chicken Council. "We urge the EPA to grant the waiver requested by Governor Perry."

"Cattlemen are now confronting $7 and even $8 corn, and that may just be the beginning," said Gregg Doud, chief economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. "Even before the wet spring pushed into June, we were already seeing a lot of acres migrating away from corn this year. By the time conditions improve in many of these fields, planting corn will no longer be an option."

"The prices for beef, pork and dairy products have risen dramatically over the past few months and this upward trend will continue, as the food used to feed these animals is washed away by flood waters and the projected size of the corn harvest shrinks," said J. Patrick Boyle, president and chief executive officer of the American Meat Institute.

Perry submitted a request to EPA to reduce the RFS mandate by half -- from 9 billion to 4.5 billion gallons blended into the national fuel supply -- on April 25. The EPA opened the waiver request for a public comment period, which ended on June 23. Now the EPA has until July 24 to issue a decision.

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