NCGA determined to defend RFS, expand trade opportunities

By Spencer Chase

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



PHOENIX, Feb. 26, 2015 - On the heels of more legislation introduced to repeal the corn ethanol mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard, a panel of National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) leaders said any attack on their chief renewable fuels policy is taken “very seriously.”

Today, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act, their second attempt at changes to the RFS in the 114th Congress. Their first effort came in an amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act, S.1, which also sought to repeal the corn ethanol mandates but failed to receive a vote.

Lets Talk Food

NCGA President Chip Bowling said defending the RFS remains the chief concern for his organization.

“Our number-one goal for the last several years is to protect the RFS,” Bowling told reporters Thursday at the Commodity Classic in Phoenix. “We'll continue to get attacks on it; we have handled them in the past and like farmers always do, we'll figure out a way to make the best of a bad situation.”

Ethanol industry leaders Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, and Bob Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said the legislation is misguided and misinformed.

“Just like their previous failed attempt, this legislation is incredibly shortsighted. Nearly identical legislation has been introduced in the past and has always failed to gain any traction,” Buis said in a statement. “This legislation is based on false, misleading information. To blame ethanol for an increase in the price of food may make for good rhetoric, but it is completely devoid of any facts to back it up.”

“Senators Feinstein and Toomey continue to operate under the misguided assumption that the RFS is driving food prices higher,” Dinneen said in his statement. “It is not. Corn is less expensive today than when the RFS was passed!

“The sad irony of the Feinstein-Toomey effort is that, if passed, the sector most likely to be harmed would be the advanced and cellulosic technologies that are just now realizing commercial success.”

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Mike Lavender, a policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group, praised the bill, saying the corn ethanol mandate of the RFS “has failed to live up to its expectations.” He said ethanol production has increased greenhouse gases in the air and polluted waterways with chemical runoff and had unintended consequences “such as engine damage and increased food price volatility.”

Aside from promoting sound ethanol policy, Bowling also spoke to the importance to their industry of trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the need for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation to help close the deal.

Corn growers say TPA, legislation that gives the president the power to negotiate a treaty on which Congress can only vote up or down, provides certainty for potential trading partners.

“We need policies that give farmers greater access to markets and level the global playing field,” Bowling said, adding that NCGA would support TPA and normalization of trade with Cuba. “Global markets need global rules, consistently enforced.”

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