National Chicken Council (NCC) Senior Vice President and Economist Bill Roenigk testified April 30 before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit about the current state of the chicken industry. Roenigk's testimony focused on a number of vital issues and difficult challenges currently confronting U.S. chicken producers.
Roenigk remarked that the state of the chicken industry, at least for those surviving firms, is good in terms of net margins but the industry continues to be frustrated by the results of an inflexible renewable fuels policy and program. He explained that chicken producers have been unable to step up production this year to long term annual averages because of lasting and rippling effects of a failed federal ethanol policy that has been in place since 2006.
"The often-dismissed fact, especially today as grain prices moderate, is that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has inflicted deep and sustained damage to chicken production," said Roenigk in his opening remarks. "In the end, consumers are once again paying the price for a biofuels policy and program that are broken beyond repair."
Roenigk says that since the RFS was enacted, chicken companies have incurred over $44 billion in higher actual feed costs due to the RFS.
"EPA's proposal for the 2014 RFS reflects again clear evidence that our nation's biofuels policy is broken, and broken well beyond repair," he added. "The issues of the blend wall, food versus fuel, mandates for non-existing cellulosic ethanol and other issues will not go away until Congress deals with the reality of the unworkable, unsustainable, imbalanced and misnomered RFS."
Roenigk also called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership significant "job creators," and said their implementation would increase poultry exports, resulting in more jobs and more family farmers growing poultry.
In addition, Roenigk called on Congress to promptly pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation so that the position of the U.S. international trade negotiators is strengthened as they continue to move forward to successfully conclude these two critically important agreements.
Other topics included in Roenigk's testimony included: USDA's Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration's rule addressing competition and contracting the poultry and livestock industries; the need for comprehensive immigration reform and a strengthened E-verify system; international trade actions at the World Trade Organization; the need for a much better rail transportation system; and the need for greater oversight and foresight regarding the supply of propane.
The hearing began at 10 a.m. April 30 in the Longworth Office Building. Also scheduled to testify were: Dr. Joseph Glauber, chief economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Roger Johnson, president, National Farmers Union; Shane Miller, senior vice president, Pork Margin Management, Tyson Fresh Meats, Dakota Dunes, S.D.; Dr. Steve Meyer, president, Paragon Economics, Adel, Iowa - on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council; Michael T. Smith, special projects manager, Harris Ranch, Selma, Calif. - on behalf of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association; Clint Krebs, president, American Sheep Industry Association, Ione, Ore.; and Matthew T. Cook, president and CEO, Norbest - on behalf of the National Turkey Federation.