The National Grange yesterday urged the Environmental Protection Agency to cooperate with a group of livestock producers who filed a petition July 30 with the EPA requesting a one-year waiver from the agency’s renewable fuel standard (RFS) rule.

The rule requires that 15 billion gallons of domestically produced ethanol be incorporated into the United States’ gasoline supply by 2022.

In 2012, roughly 40% of all domestic corn production is dedicated to ethanol production.

Livestock producers asked the EPA, which retains the authority to waive the RFS rule should they deem that it is causing severe environmental or economic damage, to lift the rule in light of the nationwide drought that has devastated thousands of farms and ranchers.  

"Our nation’s farmers are proud to be part of the movement against the dependence on foreign energy, however, that movement has to be tempered against the American public’s ability to obtain affordable and safe meat products, corn and corn-derived foods," National Grange President Ed Luttrell said Tuesday. "In a year such as this where drought conditions are the worst they have been in more than 50 years or longer in some areas, the EPA must be flexible."

The group petitioning the EPA, which includes the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, and the National Turkey Federation, said the rule, together with the drought, is going to make it increasingly more difficult for farmers and ranchers to feed livestock this year. They have also forewarned that the spike in corn prices will continue to drive up the prices of beef, poultry and pork, especially if producers cannot find relief elsewhere.