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AMI Op-Ed: Here's a Way to Cut Meat Prices Before Next Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

(American Meat Institute)

“Hamburgers and hot dogs aren’t the only things being devoured at Memorial Day celebrations this year. So are the food budgets of backyard barbecue hosts and hostesses,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle in a guest editorial published yesterday in the Sacramento Bee.

Boyle noted that according April's Consumer Price Index and U.S. Department of Agriculture data, beef and pork prices are at record high levels. As a result, some economists predicted that the total bill for the traditional Memorial Day cookout cost 29 percent more this year.

“Add that to the fact that Californians are paying $4.04 on average for a gallon of gas, one of the highest prices in the country, and that makes for one expensive family get-together,” Boyle said.

“While many variables contribute to the price of any food item, the rising cost of corn due to ethanol production is one fundamental factor that is driving up not only meat and poultry prices, but other food prices as well,” Boyle said. “Is it the only factor? No. But, unlike the weather, burning our food and feed in our gas tanks is one factor that we can control. A bill recently introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act, will help control it.”

Boyle noted that fuel blenders are currently obligated under a federal mandate to combine a certain amount of eligible biofuels into the gasoline they sell and they rely almost exclusively on ethanol derived from corn. And although its production is already mandated, the blenders receive a tax credit for incentive, at the expense of the American taxpayer, of 45 cents per gallon of ethanol they produce.

“The unintended effects of this policy continue to put pressure on farmers and ranchers who rely on corn as a major feed source for cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys,” Boyle said.

Boyle pointed to a Congressional Budget Office estimate that determined at least 10 percent of the rise in domestic food prices can be credited to ethanol alone.

“In other words, Californians and the rest of America are paying twice for the production of corn ethanol: once in the form of a tax subsidy and then again in the grocery bill,” Boyle said.

“An argument against corn-based ethanol is not an argument against the goals of achieving alternative fuels and energy independence. And it certainly isn't an argument against corn farmers, who have simply been responding to corn's current economic climate. It's an argument for proposals like Sen. Feinstein's, which would end the costly and unnecessary protection and subsidization of converting corn into fuel, save taxpayers billions of dollars and help ease one factor that's causing the spike in food prices,” Boyle concluded.

To view this op-ed in its entirety, go to http://www.sacbee.com/2011/05/30/3664320/heres-a-way-to-cut-meat-prices.html.


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