Demand for ethanol production making livestock farmers squeal

WASHINGTON - Nebraska hog producer Joy Philippi says livestock farmers “are having jitters“ over ethanol, worried there won’t be enough corn left for the pigs.
calendar icon 2 May 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Joy Philippi feeds a new pen of baby pigs at her farm near Bruning, Neb.

She might as well be talking to a wall.

There is an ethanol juggernaut moving through Congress that will call for a sevenfold increase in biofuels production — almost all of it ethanol — over the next 15 years. Presidential primaries, anger over gasoline prices and global warming make ethanol a potent political issue for both parties.

Just two years ago, Congress directed that oil refiners more than double their use of corn-produced ethanol as a gasoline additive to 7.5 billion gallons a year. Lawmakers’ sights are now set on several times that amount.

A bill expected to win bipartisan approval today from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee would require 36 billion gallons of ethanol be used annually by 2022, including 20 billion gallons made from feedstock other than corn — such as switch grasses, wood chips, corn stems and leaves.

At the same time, lawmakers are considering everything from loan guarantees and tax breaks for research and building cellulosic ethanol plants to making oil companies put ethanol pumps at retail service stations. They’re looking to automakers to fine-tune cars and reduce the efficiency loss when using gasoline blends with higher percentages of ethanol.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., wants an ethanol package ready by Memorial Day for a Senate vote shortly afterward. A parallel track has another group of senators assembling a package of pro-ethanol tax incentives.

In the House, Speaker Nancy P. Pelosi, D-Calif., has told her committee chairmen she also wants an “energy security” package with ethanol as its linchpin ready for a floor vote this summer.


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