Goodlatte, Vilsack Spar on RFS Impacts on Agriculture

Source: By Rachel Gantz, OPIS • Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who last week introduced two bills that would reform and repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2), sparred with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about the biofuel provision during a House Agriculture Committee hearing.

“I’m concerned about the continued growth of the consumption of corn under the RFS,” Goodlatte said. He asked Vilsack how USDA is working on preventing further negative impacts to the RFS, which he called “unworkable.”

“You and I are going to have to respectively disagree about this,” responded Vilsack, an ardent biofuels supporter. “I’m sure you’re not surprised by that,” he said.  “The reason I feel so strongly is because of the productivity of American agriculture. Corn production has increased significantly,” he explained, noting that there has also been significant growth in non-corn-based biofuel feedstocks.

“I don’t disagree with the ability to produce fuel from a wide variety of sources…. That would be a good thing, but that has been a promise for a long, long time,” Goodlatte responded. “In the meantime, there are growing concerns by consumer groups, environmental groups … [and others] to make sure the corn crop is not manipulated by an artificial government policy,” he continued.

“I understand the disagreement,” Goodlatte said, noting that both Vilsack and fellow committee member Rep. Steve King (R) hail from Iowa, “the capital of ethanol production. But I will just note that it doesn’t sell as well in the hinterlands of many other parts of American agriculture,” he added.

The committee hearing was held to review the state of the rural economy. Vilsack was the only wit