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Cattle Producers Urge Equal Opportunity Energy Policy

U.S. Senate vote favoring comprehensive energy legislation seen as beef-positive.

The vote by the U.S. Senate favoring comprehensive energy legislation, H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, is seen as a good move for the beef industry.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says it supports efforts to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil by investing in renewable and alternative energy resources. But NCBA does not support the proposed increase in mandates for corn-based ethanol to 15 billion gallons of renewable fuels from feedgrain products by 2015.

"Sky-high mandates for feedgrain-based ethanol are not the solution," says Jay Truitt, NCBA vice president of government affairs. "We already have strong mandates, major incentives for feedgrain-based ethanol production, and a corn ethanol industry that is growing at an astounding pace."

NCBA opposes any increase above 7.5 billion gallons for feedgrain-based ethanol mandates. Currently, the Renewable Fuels Standard requirements, which passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, require at least 7.5 billion gallons of production by 2012.

"A 15 billion-gallon Renewable Fuels Standard for feedgrain-based ethanol will deal a serious blow to cattle producers if we experience anything short of a record corn crop year after year," says Truitt. "An incredible 5.4 billion bushels of corn - roughly equal to 43% of the projected 2007 U.S. corn production - would be needed to produce the 15 billion gallons of feedgrain-based ethanol proposed."

Use of ethanol fuels already has tripled over the past five years, he notes. NCBA is urging a market-based approach for ethanol production and greater use of ethanol derived from products other than feedgrains.

"NCBA supports segmenting the RFS by fuel source," notes Truitt. "Cellulosic ethanol production does not rely on feedgrains. Therefore, it can offer new energy production opportunities to cattle producers with a negligible impact on grain prices. We urge hat greater policy emphasis be placed on development of cellulosic fuels."

The new legislation, which will assess the impact of the high mandates on feedgrains, food, livestock and also energy was sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

Co-sponsors were U.S. Senators James Inhofe, R-Okla., and John Cornyn, R-Tex.

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