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WASHINGTON -- A coalition of meat, livestock, and poultry organizations unveiled a Web site dedicated to informing policymakers, the media, and the public about the impact of national ethanol policy on the industry and on consumers. The Web site, www.balancedfoodandfuel.org, features economic analyses, charts, third-party experts, important reading, and basic facts about ethanol policy.
Coalition member sponsors include the American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Meat Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, and United Egg Producers.
A national mandate for the fuel industry to use 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels each year, a 51 cent per gallon tax incentive for ethanol blenders, and a tariff on imported ethanol have all stimulated demand for ethanol and driven up the cost of corn, which is the primary feedstock for ethanol production in the United States.
The rising cost of corn has driven up the cost of feed, and with it the cost of meat, dairy, and poultry products, causing some producers to cut back production.
The coalition contends that the economic shifts will affect consumer purchasing behavior, potentially reducing animal protein consumption. "Our nation's current ethanol policy may be good news for petroleum blenders, but it's a raw deal for animal agriculture and consumers," notes the site, which calls for a more rational policy to help avert a potential economic crisis.
The coalition says that food and fuel policy can be balanced by taking the following actions:
--Renewable energy and byproduct research: Federal funding should be provided for broad-based applied research into renewable energy technologies, economics, and byproduct safety, quality, and usability.
--Emerging bio-energy mandates: New mandates should be limited to energy from emerging bio-based sources (i.e. cellulosic, methane) that do not adversely affect animal feed availability.
--Incentive neutrality/counter-cyclical: Global energy demand will increase by more than 50 percent by 2030. Subsidies and tax credits for agriculture-based energy sources should be equally available among all forms of energy and source-neutral as a means to grow opportunities for all forms of energy. Fuel-based tax credits should function inversely to oil prices.
"We hope this site will be a valuable resource on this important national issue," said AMI president J. Patrick Boyle, whose association is a member of the coalition. "Our ethanol policy is having enormous consequences in the food and agriculture sector, and we believe that informed policymakers can make better decisions to balance food and energy needs."