A vote of 314-100 in the House of Representatives Tuesday passed the Energy Bill, which includes a Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates the use of 36 billion gallons by the year 2022. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., says the RFS is the most important part of the bill.
"When you take this bill and put it together with the farm bill, this is going to set the stage for us to produce at least 30% of our fuel from agriculture down the road," Peterson says. "We are not going to be the total solution to this problem, but we are going to be a big part of the solution and we are excited about being involved in this process and making this happen."
The Energy Bill raises the RFS to nine billion gallons next year. The bill now goes to President Bush, who is expected to sign it.
While the National Corn Growers, National Biodiesel Board and American Farm Bureau Federation have voiced their support of the Energy Bill passed Tuesday, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is opposed to the measure.
"We're not saying, 'let's hit the breaks' on ethanol production. We're saying, 'let's take our foot off the gas' when it comes to increasing the mandate even more," says Jay Truitt, NCBA's vice president of government affairs. "Energy independence is a mutual goal for all of us. But it should be market driven and it should be sustainable."
One of the organization's chief concerns is that should there be a very short corn crop there is no way to reduce the mandate.
"We have seen the impacts of drought and other natural disasters on prices and supplies in the past," said Truitt. "What happens to the needs of traditional users of corn if we simply don't have enough corn to meet this mandate? With corn prices trading above $4.00 for the foreseeable future, the livestock industry is facing some significant adjustments now that the government has stepped into the marketplace."