Livestock farmers say ethanol eats too much corn

By Michael J. Crumb

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 23 2011 1:20 a.m. MST

"We really don't want to attack ethanol but wise people make plans," he said.

Matt Hartwig, chief of staff for the Renewable Fuels Association, called the effort to rewrite the fuel standard law "little more than a Trojan horse effort" to weaken or even eliminate it. He said the farmers' complaints were overblown and most livestock producers and meatpacking companies were making good profits.

Also, the ethanol industry now produces about 1 billion gallons of ethanol more than is required and if corn supplies fall short, it could cut back, he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the fuel standard, said in a statement that states can already ask for a waiver "under certain circumstances, including inadequate domestic supply or harm to the economy or environment of a state."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry did this in 2008, claiming rising corn prices were hurting ranchers in his state. The EPA said it denied the request because the quota for renewable fuel wasn't causing severe economic harm to the state.

Meyer said many farmers are skeptical about a process that leaves such decisions to the EPA administrator, who "many in agriculture believe won't consider the best interest of livestock."

Good, the University of Illinois farm economist, said meat supplies could tighten if competing demands force corn prices higher. He said it boils down to a simple choice: "We're going to have to reduce our rate of increase in corn consumption or we're going to have to produce more corn."

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