House passes Lower Food and Fuels Cost Act

A bill that’s aimed at lowering food and fuel prices now heads to the Senate.

The U.S. House passed the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act on Thursday by a 221-204 vote. Troy Bredenkamp with the Renewable Fuels Association tells Brownfield the bill addresses soaring gas prices.

“To have a permanent solution for year-round E15 and higher blends, that is an important step forward,” Bredenkamp said. “We are happy with the way things turned out today.”

He says the bill authorizes $500 million in infrastructure grants for fuel retailers over five years.

“When you start to look at what needs to happen for us to get to a higher blend overall, it will take infrastructure,” Bredenkamp said. “Not as much as some other technologies, but certainly any help we can get to get that infrastructure in the ground is very important.”

The legislation also contains several provisions that seek to lower fertilizer costs in the field, lower meat and poultry prices by increasing market competition, add a special investigator, and strengthen the food supply chain.

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) supports the measure saying it permanently extends Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) limit relief to blends of gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol.

But, not all ag groups are supportive of the bill.

Tanner Beymer with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act, which was folded into the larger bill, duplicates the work of federal investigative agencies. “This is not the right way to bring about better enforcement, more fair markets. It just adds an extra level of bureaucratic red tape, blurs jurisdictional lines at USDA and ultimately, unfortunately, will result in less enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.”

He says those agencies include the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission and Department of Homeland Security.

He says the provision is unfunded, and it comes at the expense of programs that producers rely on like data reporting, meat grading and the Cattle Contract Library. “They’re going to have to take resources from other critical mission areas at the Agricultural Marketing Service in order to pay for this new position and the work they will do.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration and NCBA is asking the Senate to reject the proposal.

Brownfield’s Kellan Heavican contributed to this story.

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