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Website Seeks To End Corn-Ethanol’s Federal Support

15 July 2011

US - A group of industry organisations has set up a web site to explain corn-based ethanol's connection with rising meat and poultry prices and to urge consumers to take action.

The connection between rising food prices and federal support for corn-based ethanol is explained in a new web site, www.cornforfoodnotfuel.com, launched by organisations whose members produce and process the majority of meat and poultry in the United States.

Food prices are up – meat and poultry prices specifically are up 8.5 per cent from a year ago – and many consumers are asking why. According to the new web site, the government's federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol are key contributors. About 40 per cent of the US corn crop is now devoted to ethanol production because nearly all ethanol produced in this country is derived from corn. This increase in corn demand drives its cost higher, putting tremendous pressure on the livestock and poultry industries that traditionally have been major users of corn as feed. Corn prices have roughly tripled since the government in 2006 mandated ethanol be blended into gasoline and the Consumer Price Index for meat and poultry has risen steadily with it.

The new web site outlines for consumers how these rising corn prices have contributed to increased meat and poultry costs at the grocery store and asks them for their help in ending federal support of the corn-based ethanol industry, by signing a petition that states: "Federal energy policies need to move beyond corn-based ethanol and look for the next generation of alternative fuels that don't pit food, feed and fuel needs against each other."

The site is sponsored by the American Meat Institute (AMI), National Chicken Council (NCC), National Meat Association (NMA) and National Turkey Federation (NTF).

AMI President and CEO, J. Patrick Boyle, said: "When consumers see the 'Contains Ethanol' sticker at the gas pump, many don't realise the connection between the sticker and their grocery bills. This new web site aims to provide the facts and allow consumers to raise objections to this policy in an online petition. It also offers tips on stretching your meat and poultry dollar."

NCC President, Mike Brown, said: "The policies and rules of the game for corn-based ethanol must be re-balanced and the playing field must be leveled to permit chicken producers and other animal agriculture producers to more fairly compete for the very limited supplies of corn this year and most likely for the next few years. Chicken companies and all of animal agriculture are bearing the burden and feeling the disastrous effects of competing for corn on a field that is heavily tilted toward the ethanol industry."

He added that some companies have been forced to limit production and lay off workers due to the high cost of corn.

NMA CEO, Barry Carpenter, said: "The facts on this site show that food prices are in an escalating competition with ethanol due to its tariffs and subsidies. These short-sighted policies have done too little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and too much to pull feed ingredients off the market, which is radically increasing food costs without benefit."

NTF President, Joel Brandenberger, commented: "Consumers will be able to use this web site as an informative resource on food-to-fuel policies. It also will help them urge their elected officials to make better decisions to balance food and energy needs. There is also a section to help families cope with rising grocery prices by making a few modifications to their food purchasing and cooking techniques."

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