The US meat industry has called for an easing of renewable fuel regulations to reduce the amount of corn ethanol in the country produced this year as processors face soaring feed costs.

Meat and poultry companies have said a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard is the only option to help the industry deal with the knock-on effects of the country’s drought.

Drought conditions have continued to move across around two-thirds of the US where extreme weather conditions have caused corn prices to spike. The US Department of Agriculture has warned the drought will reduce corn yields this year.

On a conference call held by the National Chicken Council today (30 July), US livestock and poultry associations discussed their petition to the US Environmental Protection Agency to waive the RFS mandate due to surging corn prices.

The national trade groups of beef, chicken, pork and turkey producers will petition the Environmental Protection Agency to waive the mandate to blend ethanol into US gasoline for a year.

Michael Formica, chief environmental counsel at the National Pork Producers Council, said: “There is no other option at this point that can grant the immediate relief to get us out of this situation other than the waiver of the mandate. I’ve never experienced anything like this before … we are dealing with something we haven’t seen for the past 50 years.”

Formica said the livestock and poultry producers had filed the petition before the start of the conference call asking for the EPA to take “expedited action on this”.

A time frame on a response, he said, is “to be decided, but as soon as possible”.

“We have a crop report coming out next week and analysts released their reports last week … we think the harm is clear and we want them to take action as soon as possible.”

Tom Super of the National Chicken Council added: “An unsustainable condition has been created due to the tremendous demand from ethanol producers. We believe that the RFS is causing severe economic harm during this crisis. The RFS waiver option was put into law for crisis situations as this. Today, livestock and poultry producers are announcing officially that we are filing a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency requesting that EPA implement the law and grant us the waiver.”