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Ethanol 'Poisoning' the Poultry Business

by 5m Editor
17 July 2008, at 8:32am

US - The fight over ethanol continues in Washington, with Virginia poultry interests among those asking Congress to suspend requirements that billions of bushels of corn be diverted to the manufacture of biofuel.

During the National Turkey Federation's annual leadership conference last week in Washington, D.C., industry representatives met with lawmakers to discuss issues affecting the poultry trade, reports Tom Mitchell for DNROnline.

At the top of the list, said Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Growers Association, is the nation's energy policy, which is diverting so much corn from traditional agriculture needs.

Bauhan said the rising cost of corn, which he blames on increased ethanol production, is the most pressing matter for poultry today.


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""The most important issue facing our industry is ethanol. Hardly a day goes by that you don't see headlines about the increased cost of food."
Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Growers Association

A federal mandate passed in December diverts about a third of U.S. corn toward the production of ethanol. That, Bauhan said, has created a shortage of the crop, leading to a steep rise in prices.

The effects of that shortage, he added, have been felt around the world.

"The most important issue facing our industry is ethanol," Bauhan said. "Hardly a day goes by that you don't see headlines about the increased cost of food."

Industry representatives, including members of the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, met with Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, during the conference. Members of the co-op also met with Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and John Warner, R-Va.

Goodlatte, Bauhan said, opposes recent mandates to increase ethanol production.

"He has been a champion for our position on this issue," Bauhan said.

Goodlatte is backing a petition by Texas Gov. Rick Perry that calls for suspension of the mandate when conditions warrant it. Events such as recent floods in the Midwest, which destroyed corn crops there, aggravated an already acute shortage of corn, Goodlatte said.

Thirty-six billion bushels of corn are earmarked for ethanol production by the year 2022, he said.

"I thought [the mandate] was a bad idea," Goodlatte said. "I knew that, if you dictate each year a certain amount of corn [for ethanol], that will have a dramatic effect on food and feed."

Goodlatte said support for the petition calling for the suspension of the mandate doesn't eliminate the law.

Jim Mason, president and general manager of the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, said that putting a cap on corn grown for ethanol is vital for saving the poultry industry.

"I'm not against ethanol," said Mason, who attended the conference. "But the mandate will cause an economic hardship [on poultry producers]."

View the DNROnline story by clicking here.

5m Editor