So what would you do to help the livestock, poultry and dairy industries?

“This is a very real issue (for those sectors). The same economic dynamic I just talked about with ethanol is precisely the same as everyone in the livestock industry is faced with.

“(National Farmers Union) is a general farm organization and a bunch of livestock producers are members. By and large, the bulk of them are supportive of the RFS for a couple of reasons. One is there is a very developed food alternative with the DDGs (Dried Distillers Grains) that come out of ethanol. Another reason is national security, reducing our dependence on foreign energy and those kinds of things.

“More specifically, given the depth of the drought that we’re still in, there are some very dramatic losses in the livestock sector that have occurred. The unfortunate reality is that most of our public policies that are supportive in terms of safety net programs are designed for crop producers. Historically, much of the reason for that is livestock producers haven’t wanted to be part of that net.

“Nonetheless, we have a very good crop insurance program that will come very close to making most grain producers whole, even if they had a disastrous yield. They’ll get a crop insurance payment to make up the difference.

“But any livestock will now face a feed market significantly higher than it was before the drought set in. That’s why we’ve been so supportive of moving a farm bill through the lame duck session and including a disaster title. We’d include a provision to backfill for 2012 (when the last disaster program for livestock producers expired), specifically to deal with livestock losses but also to provide some assurance that there’ll be that sort of safety net if there’s another disaster in the next five years.  

“Our members’ philosophy has always been that safety nets should be designed to help when times are difficult, not when times are good. When the market collapses, you need a safety net. When disaster strikes, you need a safety net. A permanent disaster title in the next farm bill is the only realistic way to provide some assistance to the livestock sector, right now.”