Gov. Mike Beebe joined other elected officials, such as Congressman Rick Crawford, this month in requesting a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency on ethanol mandates under the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Beebe did so in a letter dated August 13,2012 to Lisa Jackson at the EPA. From the letter…
Virtually all of Arkansas is suffering from severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions. The declining outlook for this year’s corn corp and accelerating prices fro corn and other grains are having a severe economic impact on the State, particularly on our poultry and cattle sectors. While the drought may have triggered the price spike in corn, an underlying cause is the federal policy mandating ever-increasing amount of corn for fuel. Because of this policy, ethanol production now consumes approximately 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop, and the cost of corn for use in food production has increased by 193 percent since 2005. Put simply, ethanol policies have created significantly higher corn prices, tighter supplies, and increased volatility.
Agriculture is the backbone of Arkansas’s economy, accounting for nearly one-quarter of our economic activity. Broilers, turkeys, and cattle – sectors particularly vulnerable to this corn crisis – represent nearly half of Arkansas’s farm marketing receipts. Arkansas poultry operators are trying to cope with grain cost increases and cattle families are struggling to feed their herds.
Fortunately, the law provides EPA with the mechanism to grant some relief to poultry processors, livestock producers, and consumers. By granting a full of partial waiver for renewable fuel in 2012 and 2013, EPA can help level the playing field during this crisis. I urge you to begin a formal process for considering a waiver of the renewable fuel mandate.
Beebe’s position is to be commended. Not only is he showing that he is putting Arkansas farmers ahead of environmental policies that don’t make sense, he is going against some in his party – including the DPA – and joining with Republicans such as Crawford and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.