Is Ethanol's Influence on the Wane?

Today's W$J reports that ethanol's political influence may finally be on the decline.

Opposition to the ethanol industry's goals has grown significantly stiffer. The so-called barnyard lobby -- representing the meat, livestock and poultry industries -- says high corn prices are hurting its profits. The price of corn-based animal feed has increased about 60% since 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Our single biggest priority is for Congress to reject a new renewable-fuels mandate," says Jesse Sevcik, vice president of legislative affairs at the American Meat Institute, a meat and poultry trade association.

Other groups that were originally sympathetic to ethanol are drifting away. They fear that the fuel's advantages are outweighed by the rise in corn prices, which they say increases the cost of foods ranging from steak to cereal. "Many policy makers were seduced by ethanol," says Cal Dooley, president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. He opposes increasing federal support for ethanol.

The Agriculture Department says consumers can expect to pay as much as 4.5% more for groceries and restaurant meals this year over last, up from a 2.4% rise the year before.