We’ve never been closer to ending the subsidy for corn ethanol than now

The U.S. Senate recently voted 73-27 in favor of an amendment by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to eliminate the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) and repeal the import tariff on foreign ethanol. The amendment was identical to the Ethanol Subsidy and Tariff Repeal Act, which was introduced by Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Okla.) and Senator Feinstein in May.

“Today’s overwhelming vote shows a bipartisan consensus to repeal irresponsible ethanol subsidies and tariffs,” Senator Feinstein said. “The 73 votes sent a powerful message that the days of big subsidies for ethanol are coming to a close. We must be serious about addressing the debt and deficit, and this is a good first step.”

The ethanol subsidy currently gives large oil companies 45 cents for every gallon of ethanol they blend with gasoline, even though much of that use is mandated by law. If the subsidy was repealed by July 1, as the amendment calls for, it will save approximately $2.7 billion for the remainder of 2011.

The ethanol tariff is comprised of a 54-cent-per-gallon secondary tariff and a 2.5 percent ad valorem tax. The ethanol tariff makes the United States nation more dependent on foreign oil by increasing the price of imported ethanol.

“Ethanol is the only industry I know of that receives a triple crown of government support: its use is mandated by law, it enjoys protective tariffs and oil companies receive federal subsidies to use it,” Senator Feinstein added. “These flawed policies, which cost taxpayers nearly $6 billion a year, must be changed.”

Right after this vote, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a similar bill, led by Congressman  Wally Herger, to do just about the same thing as passed in the Senate.

But let’s not get too optimistic. The senate vote was only a primer for what’s to come, since any new legislation like this must originate in the House before the Senate can do anything. Their historic vote was huge for the anti-corn ethanol folks, like us, which is why now we see the House looking to do much the same thing.

But like everything that goes on in Washington, DC, we must be as vigilant as ever, and continue to let our leaders know how important this is to animal agriculture, the food industry, and the consumers who rely on food throughout the world. If you are concerned about jobs, then you should be with us in trying to eliminate these subsidies. These  corn subsidies have got to go, and not soon enough. But I urge you to send a note to your member of Congress, thank both Senators Feinstein and Boxer for their work to eliminate these subsidies, and make a pest of yourself.

If you are concerned about corn ethanol subsidies, don’t let today go by before contacting the office of your member of Congress. Now!

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