A food and agriculture coalition has stated their opposition to the administration’s proposed “user fees” for mandatory inspection programs for meat, poultry and egg processors. The proposed fees are part of the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012. In a letter to the congressional leadership, the groups stated, “In reality, these fees represent a food safety tax on consumers and not just a fee on processors. The proposed tax will make the current equitable funding mechanism inherently regressive, since low- and middle-income families spend a higher portion of their income on food than do wealthier Americans.”

“Furthermore, this proposal to transform government-funded food safety inspection programs provides less accountability for the government to manage program costs, results and efficiencies.” Those signing the letter included American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and United Egg Producers.

Groups Urge Senate to Reject House Ethanol Restrictions — Ethanol and agricultural groups have sent a letter to the Senate opposing the House-passed provisions that would restrict higher ethanol blends. The House passed a continuing resolution (CR) that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing its rule to allow for ethanol blends up to 15% for vehicle models 2001 and newer. The bill would also prohibit funding for the installation of blender pumps. The groups said, “We urge you to oppose any efforts that would prohibit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing the approval of E15 for cars, pickups and SUVs made in model year 2001 or later. Such a prohibition would only contribute to our nation’s reliance on foreign sources of oil.” Those signing the letter were American Coalition for Ethanol, American Farm Bureau Federation, Growth Energy, Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and National Sorghum Producers.

End Government Support for Ethanol — A large coalition of 90 business associations, taxpayer advocates, hunger organizations, agricultural groups, religious organizations and environmental groups have written lawmakers urging the Congress to allow the ethanol blender’s tax credit to expire the end of this year. The groups said, “At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard.” Those signing the letter included Africa Action, American Bakers Association, American Meat Institute, Clean Water Action, Environmental Working Group, Greenpeace USA, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association, National Taxpayers Union, National Turkey Federation, Oil Change International and the World Wildlife Fund.

Ethanol Production Reaches Record 13.23 Billion Gallons — According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), 2010 was a record year for ethanol production with nearly 13.23 billion gallons being produced. This compares to 2009 production of 10.75 billion gallons. Imports for 2010 were 9.7 million gallons, down from the 193 million gallons imported in 2009. Also, 9 million metric tons (9.9 million tons) of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) were exported.

Congress Funds Government for Two More Weeks — Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that funds the federal government until March 18. The short term CR cuts $4 billion by eliminating a number of programs proposed by the administration and various earmarks. This gives Congress an additional two weeks to try and reach an agreement to finalize an appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.