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AMI, Producers, Industry Voice Concern Over Quintupling of Ethanol Mandate

Monday, June 11, 2007

A coalition consisting of the American Meat Institute and a host of trade associations and businesses representing the full spectrum of the food sector sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noting concern about a Senate bill that would quintuple the U.S. biofuel mandate. The letter noted that without the proper safeguards in place, any additional new mandates "will inevitably be met by corn ethanol, and it is likely to have a significant impact on food and feed production, public health, and land, air and water resources."

The letter points out that the bill raises a number of fundamental questions about the impact the increased federal mandate would have on the food industry’s ability to produce competitive, affordable food. The coalition says that while it supports the need to advance renewable and alternative fuel options, the limits on corn-based ethanol were close to being reached, and the Senate needed to focus instead on other long term solutions, such as ceullulosic ethanol. “Rapid development of the corn-based ethanol industry is already having adverse impacts on food supplies and prices, a major concern for consumers,” the coalition notes.

The letter points to a recent report by Merrill Lynch Chief Investment Strategist Richard Bernstein, that found that in the first three months of this year, food prices have risen and annualized rate of 7.3 percent. “Rising food prices, coupled with the rising energy prices we are seeing throughout the country, pose a threat to the health of our national economy,” they note.

The coalition urges the Senate to carefully consider this transition to new alternative fuels, noting the unintended consequences of an increased mandate to the environment. “We simply ask that as Congress moves to consider energy policy mandates, time be provided to review, understand and address the implications of this policy on public health, the environment, and the livestock and food industries,” they add.

To see a full copy of the letter, click here:

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