National Pork Producers re-visit E15 waiver

By Craig A. Johnson | August 10, 2009
In a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the National Pork Producers Council has requested a study of the impact of expanded use of ethanol in gasoline blends. The request was included in a list of items the NPPC sees as vital to return to profitability, including a call for the federal government to purchase an additional $50 million of pork products for federal food programs.

The NPPC letter asks Vilsack to "Study the economic impact on the livestock industry of an expansion of corn-ethanol production and usage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed raising the cap on blending ethanol into gasoline to 15 percent from its current 10 percent."

The EPA recently closed the comment period for the E15 waiver. Livestock groups generally oppose the waiver and any forms of aid to the ethanol industry because of the perceived impact on corn prices.

"U.S. pork producers are in desperate straits right now, and they need a little help from USDA," said NPPC President Don Butler. "The request NPPC has made today not only will help pork producers and Americans who benefit from government feeding programs but tens of thousands of mostly rural jobs supported by the U.S. pork industry."

Hog prices have been hit hard by the economic downturn and the public's perceived health hazards related to the H1N1 virus, or swine flu. In addition, the NPPC points to the high cost of feed as a contributing factor in their declining profitability.