Thursday, June 14, 2007

Grassley to Livestock Groups: 'Don't Be Selfish'

Agricultural commodity groups and food manufacturers are balking at a proposal to increase renewable fuels standards.

News reports surfaced this week about the opposition of livestock groups and manufacturers who use corn-based products to an energy bill provision being debated in Congress.
A Brownfield Network article reported on Tuesday that the National Pork Producers Association and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association are among the groups urging changes to the provision, which would raise the renewable fuels standard to 36 billion gallons by 2022 from its current level of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.
As noted in an article Wednesday on Iowa Farmer Today, pork producers are feeling the pinch because of the higher prices for feed and are worried about their profits.

Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa was asked about the splintering support of renewable fuels standards in a conference call with reporters this week. Grassley asked agriculture groups to not "be selfish."

"The approach that's being used in the energy bill is a common-sense approach, that's spread out over many years," said Grassley. "We need an expansion of alternative renewable energy. We all know it's not going to be done with kernel corn or with soybeans."

"It's going to have to be done through cellulosic ethanol and any other form of oil we can get beyond soybean oil, to provide the alternative energies that today the commodity groups, livestock groups are raising concern about," he said. "It's a very slow phase-in. During that very slow phase-in over multitudes of years, we're going to get the marketplace solving the problem, based upon scientists telling us three to five years to get the enzymes to break down the cellulosic feedstock for cellulosic ethanol. And then at that time the marketplace takes care of the problems that are being raised by livestock producers today."

Grassley said the potential for production of ethanol will be significant once the new technologies are up and running.

"There's just a tremendous amount of feedstock out there that has cellulose -- grasses, switchgrass, corn stover, wood chips, you name it. That's where we're headed. And all I would ask is agriculture stay united. We've been united on ethanol for 25 years. Don't be selfish with one segment of agriculture towards the others. If you didn't have that selfish approach over the last 25 years, why would you have it now, particularly when you see the successes that we've had."

On Wednesday, Grassley introduced an amendment to the energy bill that would call for 25 percent of the total energy consumption in the United States to be provided by renewable sources by 2025. The amendment was co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado.

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