With U.S. pork producers still smarting because of high feed-grain prices, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) asked that the Obama administration study the economic impact of an expansion of corn-ethanol production and usage, according to a NPPC press release.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Carol Browner, who is assistant to the president for energy and climate change, the NPPC asked that the administration lead an effort to examine the effects of such an expansion on corn availability, the price elasticity of corn, the users of corn and rural work forces and industries associated with corn.

NPPC wants the administration to bring stakeholders together to consider all possible impacts of corn-ethanol expansion, including the extent to which increasing blend limits will further increase market speculation, affect grain and commodity markets and actually help the ethanol industry. 


"We hope the Obama administration and Congress provide answers to the questions surrounding ethanol expansion before rushing to change ethanol policy – that's the America way," said NPPC president Don Butler.

While the U.S. pork industry has not opposed the use of ethanol and the country's goal of producing 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol by 2015, it has paid a price, literally, in the form of much higher feed costs, according to NPPC. Due mostly to those higher costs, pork producers since October 2007 have reportedly lost an average of $20 on each hog marketed; the industry has lost between $3 billion and $3.5 billion in equity over the past 18 months.