Corn prices have dropped, but has your food costs? Ask Chuck Grassley

2015-05-20 02:24:11 EDT via OPIS
***Sen. Grassley Rails against RFS Repeal Opinion Piece

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) took to the Senate floor earlier today to rail
against a Wall Street Journal opinion piece written last week by the National
Chicken Council and the National Council of Chain Restaurants, calling on
Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2).

In the opinion piece last week, the two groups described the RFS as a provision
“that stymies small businesses, hurts the environment and increases food
prices.” OPIS reported on the opinion piece on May 15.

“Once again, chain restaurants and chicken producers are teaming up to smear
homegrown biofuels producers at the expense of energy independence and cleaner
air,” Grassley said on the Senate floor, noting that “every couple of years,
food producers or grocery manufacturers team up with big oil to try to undermine
the extremely successful Renewable Fuel Standard.”

“I’m going to take this opportunity to do a simple fact check of some of the
most egregious claims. First, they claim that since 2005, when the RFS was first
adopted, costs of vital food commodities, including corn, grains and oilseeds,
poultry, meat, eggs and dairy have risen dramatically. This is pure myth,”
Grassley said. “The fact is consumer food prices have increased by an annual
average of 2.68% since 2005. In contrast, food prices increased by an average of
3.47% in the 25 years leading up to passage of the RFS,” he noted.

“Second, they claim that as a result of the RFS, corn is being ‘diverted’ from
livestock feed to ethanol. Again, this claim is false,” Grassley continued.
“Corn used for ethanol has come from the significant increases in corn
production since 2005….And one-third of the corn used for ethanol production is
returned to the market as animal feed. The amount of corn and corn co-products
available for feed use is larger today than any time in history. So, it’s hardly
being diverted,” he said.

“Finally, they claim the increases in feed costs have affected the American
production of beef, pork and chicken. They state that production had increased
consistently over the past 30 years, but has now leveled off due to the higher
cost of feed. Again, this is nowhere near reality,” Grassley said. The reality
is USDA is projecting red meat and poultry production of 95.2 billion pounds
this year, up 10% from 2005. … Just a few years ago, when corn prices had
peaked at more than $7.50 a bushel, grocers, food producers and restaurants were
claiming that food inflation would approach 10% because of the RFS. They warned
that they’d be forced to pass those higher costs on to consumers immediately,”
he said.

“Well, with corn at $3.50 a bushel today, have consumers seen a dramatic
reduction in retail food prices? … Corn prices have come down by more than
half in the past two-and-a-half years, so why are food producers holding prices
steady or increasing them?” Grassley asked.

“The fact is domestic renewable fuel producers are feeding and fueling the
world. … The [RFS] policy is working. I intend to defend all attacks against
this successful program whether they come from big oil, the EPA, big food or
others,” Grassley added.

Neither food group responded to Grassley’s remarks by presstime.

Posted in Biodiesel.