The Hill: The Renewable Fuel Standard: Causing more harm than good

August 19, 2013

John Burkel and Mike Helgeson, August 16 – Minnesota corn farmer Gary Pestoriou’s Aug. 5 post on this blog, “RFS hasn't hurt the poultry industry,” represents nothing more than a narrow viewpoint—a viewpoint that we'd like to broaden the thinking on. The two of us are writing, one as a grower who supports a family of five by raising between 100,000 and 150,000 turkeys, and the other as head of a multi-generational, family-owned business born and bred in Minnesota. Together, we employ 1,600 Minnesotans and contract with 350 Minnesota farm families.

Since RFS’ inception, corn demand has continued to increase as fuel producers are forced to adhere to the policy. And as fuel and food producers vie for corn supply—even amid drought conditions—grain costs have risen an astronomical 275 percent since the policy was implemented. The reality is that feedstock is the single largest cost in raising chickens, turkeys, beef and other livestock, and as a result of the RFS, poultry producers have been forced to spend an additional $1.9 million per day on corn for feed.

Just days ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signaled that it is considering reductions to the ethanol mandates through the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) next year. While this potentially marks a step in the right direction, it fails to provide poultry producers and consumers with certainty and the sustainable relief they need from the increased costs imposed by our nation's biofuel mandate. In the interim, the RFS remains a broken policy that—despite recent claims from corn farmers—is in urgent need of reform.