Bill Roenigk, NCC consultant and former NCC senior vice president and chief economist, testified on Wednesday before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock,  Rural  Development and Credit about the current state of the chicken industry.  Roenigk said that the current state of the chicken industry, at least for those surviving chicken processing firms, is good in terms of net margins but that 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 with us since 2006.

“The often-dismissed fact, especially today as grain prices moderate, is that the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) has inflicted deep and sustained damage to chicken production,” Roenigk said.  “In the end, consumers are once again paying the price of a biofuels policy and program that are broken beyond repair.”  Since the RFS was enacted, chicken companies have incurred over $44 billion in higher actual feed costs because of the RFS, according to Roenigk.

“EPA’s proposal for the 2014 RFS reflects again clear evidence that our nation’s biofuels policy is broken, and broken well beyond repair,” Roenigk said.  “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.”

Reonigk also discussed trade issues, saying that implementing the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership would increase poultry exports, resulting in more jobs and more family farmers growing poultry.  Roenigk also called on Congress to promptly pass Trade Promotion Authority so that the position of the U.S. international trade negotiators is strengthened as they continue to move forward to conclude these critically important trade agreements.

Roenigk also spoke about USDA’s Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration’s rule addressing competition and contracting in 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 better and more efficient rail transportation; and the need for greater oversight and foresight regarding propane supplies.

Others testifying at the hearing included Dr. Joseph Glauber, USDA’s chief economist, as well as representatives from the National Farmers Union, Tyson Fresh Meats, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Sheep Industry Association,  and National Turkey Federation, among others.