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    Industry Blasts EPA’s Rejection of Ethanol Waivers

    Groups say decision means higher food costs

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) last week characterized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision not to waive a portion of the Renewable Fuels Standard mandate for 2012-2013 as “both disappointing and unfortunate for consumers.”

    Washington, D.C.-based GMA, along with numerous policymakers, NGO groups and other associations, requested the waiver to provide temporary relief to shoppers who’ve experienced steadily rising food prices since the implementation of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which diverts almost 40 percent of the corn crop from livestock feed and food production to the manufacture of ethanol. “The RFS has [disrupted] and will continue to disrupt commodity markets and exacerbate the impact of last summer’s devastating drought on food prices at a time when Americans can least afford it,” according to the trade association.

    “The EPA’s decision to reject the waiver requests despite great and obvious need suggests that it is time to rethink the flaws of the RFS and move away from misguided food-for-fuel policies once and for all,” GMA said.

    The McLean, Va.-based American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), which, along with GMA, was part of a coalition of nearly 20 food groups urging EPA to grant a waiver, also weighed in on the government agency’s decision, noting that it “will saddle food producers and American grocery shoppers with increased costs when we can least afford it,” in the words of President and CEO Kraig R. Naaz, who noted that many consumers would encounter higher food prices firsthand while shopping for their Thanksgiving feasts.

    “The historic drought that devastated this year’s corn crop has caused the availability of corn to plummet and prices to skyrocket,” explained Naaz. “Since corn is a vital part of America’s food supply, both as animal feed and a food ingredient, the cost to produce a wide range of foods will increase and consumers will see higher food bills.”

    Naaz additionally agreed with the GMA’s stance on reconsidering the policy. “Since EPA is unwilling to utilize the relief valve at its disposal to spare foodmakers and consumers from higher costs, it’s time for Congress to look at eliminating the RFS altogether,” he said.

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