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- For around 20 years, the cost of catfish feed has ranged from $200 to $300 per ton.
- In 2012, feed costs skyrocketed. Low protein feed cost over $500 per ton. Some producers paid $600.
Catfish Farmers of America hasn’t taken a public, official position regarding the request by several governors to the EPA to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (a government mandate that calls for set levels of ethanol production) in an attempt to keep more corn in the market and lower feed costs.
More on the RFS waiver requests here.
Still, Lowery says, “most people would agree that given a year like 2012 – with the drought and poor crops in the Midwest coupled with the ethanol mandate – it’s made things tougher. All told, about 50 percent of the crop is taken right off the top to produce a fuel.
“We’re in a situation where we’re trading food for gas. This will eventually show up, I think, with the consumer that buys any kind of beef, poultry, or anything that needs to be fed. It will show up.”
What about the big push-back by the ethanol industry against such claims?
“In a normal year, what the ethanol industry would use of the corn crop might be healthy,” says Lowery. “But in situations like we’ve encountered this year, there needs to be a reasonable trigger to prevent too much corn being taken from producers trying to raise food. With input costs where they are, it’s tough on the farmers.
“The biggest thing that has happened in the recent year is the skyrocketing of input costs, especially feed. That’s our biggest expense on the farm.”
Mid-South “row-crop operations have done well and I’m so glad they have. But everyone should understand that the ethanol mandate can be dangerous. If the mandate is going to keep functioning there needs to be a mechanism to ensure we’re not sacrificing our food for the fuel.”