Let’s end federal policies tipping the scale in favor of ethanol

-A A +A
By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

What federal policy harms a diverse group like livestock producers, food banks, families, restaurant owners, and truckers? Believe it or not, it is the promotion of corn as a fuel source in the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).


The RFS mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into our nation’s fuel supply by 2022. Currently, this mandate is almost entirely fulfilled by corn ethanol.


The RFS has resulted in serious negative consequences for the American economy. We have seen a shift in corn being utilized for feed and food use, to corn being increasingly diverted into ethanol production. In fact, last year, more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop was used for ethanol production.


As you might imagine, this shift toward corn production for ethanol has put a squeeze on businesses, tightening corn supplies and increasing food prices. On recent stops around the Sixth District, I spoke with several small business owners who have experienced the impact of this mandate firsthand. One owner of a food distribution company noted that the RFS has played a role in the 4 to 6 percent rise in costs that his business has experienced of late. At a local Domino’s Pizza, I heard about how growing food costs, as a result of the RFS, are also harming local restaurant owners.


A tighter supply of corn has not only impacted poultry, beef, and dairy farmers in the Sixth District, but consumers as well. Families are seeing their weekly grocery bill go up as a direct result of the RFS and the ethanol mandate. Additionally, food banks throughout our district, those who help the neediest amongst us, have seen their purchasing power impacted due to rising commodity costs.


The RFS is an example of the federal government putting its heavy thumb on one side of the scale – tipping it in favor of one side over the other. In the debate over ethanol, the government is picking winners and losers. Every cattle producer who faces higher feed costs, every family that shops in a grocery store or dines at a restaurant, and every motorist who fills up their vehicle at the gas station pays the price of this unworkable policy.


These examples are just a few of the reasons why the RFS should cease to exist and why I introduced the RFS Elimination Act, which abolishes the RFS and makes ethanol compete in a free market. This legislation would give relief to livestock and food producers as well as consumers of these products. Renewable fuels play an important role in our all-of-the-above energy policy, but they should compete fairly in the marketplace and not be the beneficiary of an anti-competitive government mandate. American families and businesses should not have to shoulder the high cost of this unworkable federal ethanol mandate.