The National Corn Growers Association is urging growers to contact the Environmental Protection Agency with their comments on the expanded Renewable Fuel Standard regulations, known as RFS II. Until Sept. 25, the EPA will accept public comments on the proposed standard, which could drastically impact the future of U.S. corn-based ethanol.
“Corn growers strive to be good stewards of our land. We understand that the land will only continue to provide for us if we treat it respectfully,” NCGA Ethanol Committee Chairman Steve Ruh, an Illinois farmer, said. “We want the EPA to understand that we produce the corn stock for ethanol in a responsible manner that helps increase our economical energy independence while continuing to provide quality, affordable food, feed and fuel for consumers.”
Following is the text of a Sept. 15 NCGA press release:
As proposed, the RFS II regulations incorporate assumptions drawn from baseless, unscientific presumptions and ignore corn yield and production forecasts made by the USDA. The RFS II would place significant burdens upon U.S. farmers — with no guaranteed benefits.
This is because the methodology used to measure the impacts of U.S. corn and ethanol production for the International Land Use Change or Indirect Land Use assumption is flawed. There is no evidence to support the EPA’s claim that corn production in the U.S. has any impact on the production of crops in other countries, such as Brazil. The current proposed rule could place a huge burden on corn growers by requiring proof that feedstocks used for ethanol production came from cropland which was in production prior to 2007. These proposed methods are unreasonable and unworkable.
The RFS II also does not take into account corn growers’ ability to continually produce a larger supply of corn, even on shrinking acreage, through increased yields. According to the latest USDA forecast, corn supply will reach 14.7 billion bushels in 2009, nearly one billion bushels higher than 2008. Based on conditions as of Sept. 1, yields are expected to average 161.9 bushels per acre, 8.0 bushels above last year. Although production is slightly behind 2007’s record, that year saw 6.5 million more acres harvested at a lower average yield.
The EPA’s analysis creates an unlevel playing field for corn ethanol and ignores the impacts of oil and gas production. It penalizes the biofuels industry, which produced more than 600,000 barrels per day of homegrown biofuels in 2008. As President Obama has said, these fuels saved U.S. motorists billions of dollars. Additionally, the 150-plus ethanol and biodiesel facilities create hundreds of thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments. Punitive regulations would negatively impact growers, plant workers and consumers.
In fact, based on a new study from Informa Economics utilizing surveys of ethanol operations and grain elevators, it is estimated that possible annually recurring yearly costs to comply with the renewable biomass provisions within the new RFS II regulations will be approximately $420 million, or nearly nine cents per bushel.
Today’s farmers are growing more with less fertilizer, water and land. In doing so, they deserve fair regulation, based on sound science and a transparent process that allows them to farm in the safe and responsible manner that produces a surplus of corn for food, feed and fuel use.