Martin O’Malley

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The worst drought in 50 years has destroyed one-sixth of the U.S. corn crop. The USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WSDE) report, released Friday, projects the smallest corn crop in six years and the lowest corn yields per acre since 1995.

As acreage, production, and yields declined, corn prices spiked. Last week, corn futures hit a record high of $8.29-3/4 per bushel.

If corn prices remain  high through 2013, livestock producers who use corn as a feedstock will incur billions of dollars in added costs. “These additional costs will either be passed on to consumers through increased food prices, or poultry farmers will be forced out of business,” warn the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation.

Even before the drought hit, corn prices were high. Prices increased from $2.00 a bushel in 2005/2006 to $6.00 a bushel in 2011/2012, notes FarmEcon LLC. A key inflationary factor is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), commonly known as the ethanol mandate. Since 2005, the RFS has required more and more billions of bushels to be used to fuel cars rather than feed livestock and people.

Suspension of the mandate would allow meat, poultry, and dairy producers to compete on a level playing field with ethanol producers for what remains of the drought-ravaged crop. That would reduce corn prices, benefiting livestock producers and consumers alike.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has authority under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) to waive the RFS blending targets, in whole or in part, if she determines that those requirements “would severely harm the economy or environment of a State, a region, or the United States.” The pressure on her to do so is mounting. [click to continue…]

Update on the States

by William Yeatman on March 7, 2011

in Blog

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Offshore wind energy is so expensive that even the Democratic-controlled State Legislature is balking at the price tag of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s (D) proposed “Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act.” The legislation would force the state’s investor owned utilities to minimum 20-year contracts for 400 megawatts to 600 megawatts of offshore wind power. Governor O’Malley’s office estimates that the legislation would cost ratepayers about $1.50 a month, but this projection is based on unrealistically optimistic assumptions. Independent analyses peg the costs at up to $9.00 a month. The disparity in estimates has elicited a negative response from O’Malley’s own party in the legislature: the Washington Post reported this week that two Democratic lawmakers key to the bill’s prospects have suggested they need more time to vet the legislation than is left in this year’s session.


By a bipartisan vote of 28 to 10, the Kentucky State Senate last week passed a resolution exempting the coal industry from EPA regulation, according to the AP. The non-binding resolution, which was introduced by Sen. Brandon Smith (R), is now before the House of Representatives.

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