A bipartisan group of senators today followed the lead of 156 House lawmakers in urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help livestock and poultry farmers deal with severe drought conditions by waiving the federal mandate that requires corn-ethanol to be blended into gasoline.

The Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) requires 13.2 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol to be produced in 2012 and 13.8 billion gallons in 2013, amounts that will see the ethanol industry use about 4.7 billion and 4.9 billion bushels, respectively, of the nation’s corn.

The National Pork Producers Council applauded the 25 senators – 13 Democrats and 12 Republicans – who signed a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, asking that she take immediate action to bring relief to farmers suffering from the worst drought in more than 50 years. House members last week sent a similar letter to Jackson.

“NPPC applauds these senators for looking out for the interests of America’s livestock and poultry farmers,” says NPPC President-Elect Randy Spronk, a pork producer from Edgerton, MN. “There’s nothing the government can do about the drought, but it can ease the pressure on corn supplies by granting an RFS waiver, a tool put in the law to address situations such as this drought.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently rated 23% of the nation’s corn crop as good to excellent and 50% as poor to very poor because of the drought affecting most of the corn-growing regions.

“As stressful weather conditions continue to push corn yields lower and prices upward, the economic ramifications for consumers, livestock and poultry producers, food manufacturers and foodservice providers will become more severe,” the senators wrote in their letter to Jackson. “We ask you to adjust the corn grain-ethanol mandate of the RFS to reflect this natural disaster and these new market conditions. Doing so will help to ease supply concerns and provide relief from high corn prices.”

The requests by Senate and House lawmakers follow the July 30 filing of a petition by a coalition of livestock and poultry organizations, including NPPC, asking EPA to grant in whole or in part a waiver of the RFS for the remainder of 2012 and for part of 2013.