In a letter sent earlier this week, Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) became the eighth governor to petition the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to grant a waiver from the ethanol quotas mandated by the federal Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

In a show of support for the Virginia governor, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and  Virginia Poultry Federation offered their praise for McDonnell’s petition in a press release issued on Tuesday.

“I thank Governor McDonnell for his efforts to provide relief for Virginia’s chicken farmers and processors who have and continue to experience severe economic harm as a direct result of the federal ethanol mandate,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown.  “Congress gave the EPA administrator the authority to act in a situation such as this to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.  I join Governor McDonnell in asking immediately for a full, one-year waiver from the RFS.”

The RFS mandates that all U.S. transportation fuel contain ethanol, effectively diverting more than 40 percent of U.S.-grown corn to fuel.  In 2011, more corn went into gas than into feeding animals raised for food for the first time in history.

“The direct harm is caused by the RFS requirement to utilize ever-increasing amounts of corn and soybeans for transportation fuel, severely increasing the costs of producing food, and further depleting already severely stressed grain supplies,” said Governor McDonnell. “Altogether, economic harm is being experienced by Virginia’s livestock and poultry production regions and important economic sectors in the state as a direct result of the implementation of the applicable volume requirements of the RFS.  This harm could be alleviated by a full waiver of the RFS in 2012 and 2013,” he continued.

Poultry is essential to the economy of Virginia.  Chickens are Virginia’s number one farm commodity and the state is the fifth-largest producer of turkeys in the nation.   According to McDonnell, agriculture generates more than $55 billion per year and 357,000 jobs for the commonwealth.

Governor McDonnell now joins twelve bipartisan members of the Virginia congressional delegation in calling for an RFS waiver, including: U.S. Senators Jim Webb (D) and Mark Warner (D), and Representatives Rob Wittman (R-1); Scott Rigell (R-2); Bobby Scott (D-3); Randy Forbes (R-4); Robert Hurt (R-5); Bob Goodlatte (R-6); Jim Moran (D-8); Morgan Griffith (R-9); Frank Wolf (R- 10); and Gerald Connolly (D-11).

Virginia is the eighth state to file a petition from the waiver behind Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, Arkansas, North Carolina, Maryland and Delaware.