WASHINGTON – A coalition of trade organizations has sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer objected to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) plans to offer loans to ethanol plants.

The USDA recently announced that it would extend rural development loans to ethanol plants that had bought corn as prices rose earlier this year.

The coalition, which includes the American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council and many other meat and agriculture groups, questioned whether the ethanol industry was in a “uniquely difficult position” because of corn prices.

“Many of our producer and processor members also took long positions on corn and soybeans and are paying above-market rates right now,” the letter stated. “It will be some months before all the high-priced corn passes through the system. That is simply the way the commodity markets work, and every participant has to decide whether to go long or pay the current price.”

The letter pointed out that agriculture had suffered, especially with the poultry industry where several companies have had to close plants and lay off workers. The letter claimed that the USDA did not provide the same support to agriculture interests that it has to ethanol.

“We urge you to rethink your intention of selectively lending taxpayer funds to private facilities that are having difficulty with the price of commodities,” the letter stated.


Source: American Meat Institute