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Livestock Producers Petition EPA to Waive Corn-Ethanol Mandate

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The drought has pushed corn prices to record highs. That's putting a strain on livestock producer's budgets.

Jim Compart of Compart Family Farms says, "Heaven forbid if we have a drought is what everybody always said and I think we are experiencing that right now."

Corn prices have gone up more than 60% since June and livestock producers say they stand to lose a lot if the prices continue to climb.

Compart says, "Just in one group of pigs, those farmers are looking at losing $40,000–$50,000 if they are selling them at Christmas time."

That is why a group of livestock producers filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to decrease ethanol production.

Compart says, "That's their business, but we are in a crisis situation right now. The liquidations of sows right now is huge because people are getting out of the business."

But, Chris Oehler with POET Biorefining says it takes 5 billion bushels of corn to feed the livestock industry as a whole, this country exports 1.6 billion bushels a year.

Oehler says, "So if an adjustment needs to be made why wouldn't we look at adjusting our exports and taking care of those at home."

Livestock producers have taken issue with the EPA's renewable fuel standard, which requires 15 billion gallons of domestic corn ethanol to be blended into the nation's motor fuel supply by 2022, with a 2012 target of 13.2 billion gallons.

They say the law coupled with a nationwide drought will make it harder for them to get enough corn to feed all their livestock.

But, Oehler says a drought is temporary, so it wouldn't make sense to change policy that up to now has been working.

Oehler says, "It would be unfortunate for us to take a step backwards, at this point in time the ethanol industry has reduced the gas price by about $1.10 per gallon and I would hate to see us head in a different direction before we look at all viable alternatives."

The government has yet to act on this request.