The Senate passed a historic climate bill this week at a time when scientists warn that nations have only a few remaining years to make deep enough cuts in carbon dioxide to avoid planetary catastrophe. The bill, The Inflation Reduction Act, aims to substantially expand federal support for alternative and sustainable fuels like renewable diesel production.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said that the bill “makes the largest investment ever in combating the existential crisis of climate change.”
But the Pet Food Institute isn’t cheering.
FEED PEOPLE AND PETS FIRST CAMPAIGN
The Pet Food Institute (PFI) and its allies, whose members make up the vast majority of all U.S. pet food and treat products, have created Feed People and Pets First, an advocacy campaign designed to persuade Congress not to advance mandates and incentives for renewable diesel. Because they say it is creating a crisis in supply and demand for inedible fats and oils in animal and pet food. In addition, they complain that the renewable fuel mandates and tax credits for renewable diesel have created an “unfair government-driven market advantage for the energy sector and a disadvantage for pet food companies purchasing the inedible fats and oils.”
Specifically, the PFI is asking Congress to:
- Pause increases in mandates and incentives until refining and production capacity of feedstocks can increase.
- Temporarily lower the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate for advanced biofuel.
- Assist with the removal or reduction of tariffs for plant and animal fats or oils imported to support human and pet food.
RENEWABLE DIESEL CAMPAIGN TOOLKIT
To push their agenda forward, the PFI created the Renewable Diesel Campaign Toolkit, ostensibly to provide the pet food industry and retailers with resources to educate consumers on the renewable diesel issue. The toolkit’s purpose is to elicit sympathy from pet food consumers that the pet food industry is being “severely impacted by government incentives to expand renewable diesel production” and that consumers who support climate change initiatives will ultimately pay more for the price of pet food.
The toolkit urges pet food companies and retailers to sign PFI’s petition to the U.S. Congress and to promote their #FoodBeforeFuel hashtag. Pet food companies are provided with suggested scripts to follow, along with graphics:
- Include the suggested email text in customer newsletters or an email blast to customers.
- Post the suggested blog content.
- Post the suggested social media posts on your social channels.
- Send the suggested letter to the editor to local media outlets.
- Use the print-ready half-page infographic at your register or in customer shopping bags.
- Place the suggested website text on your site.
- Encourage your employees to sign the petition and share the social media posts on their own channels.
- Food Before Fuel campaign, hashtag #foodbeforefuel, developed a Renewable Diesel Toolkit. This toolkit has all the resources your company or organization needs to reach consumers with the #FoodBeforeFuel message.
The #FoodBeforeFuel hashtag promoted by the PFI is remarkably similar, in many ways, to the bill H.R.7484 – Food Before Fuel Act introduced in April, which also proposes revising the Renewable Fuel Program (RFP) (a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels) to eliminate the annual renewable fuel standard and eliminate the corn ethanol mandate for renewable fuel. The primary difference between CFI’s Food Before Fuel campaign is that the Food Before Fuel Act bill wants to stop incentivizing farmers to grow corn for ethanol.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
In a comment to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFI stated that while they support “responsible efforts to address climate change and utilize additional energy sources that reduce carbon emissions,” they will not endorse incentives promoting renewable fuel growth because they claim it will “create dire consequences for their animal feed and pet food producers.”
The EPA replied to comments concerning the dwindling supply of inedible animal fats, saying that in reality, “only a small portion of animal fats are used for biofuel production (approximately 20% according to the North American Renderers Association), and they project that there will continue to be a sufficient supply of these feedstocks to non-biofuel industries such as the pet food manufacturers.”
The PFI argues that the biofuel industry unfairly characterized inedible animal fat and used cooking oil as “waste products” while promoting the idea that recycling those ingredients makes the U.S. food and agriculture industries more sustainable by reducing food waste.
Waste cooking oils and animal fats are much less expensive than pure vegetable oils and are a promising – and government-subsidized – alternative to vegetable oil for biodiesel production. And now, with government initiatives and tax measures, animal waste material and used cooking oil is the critical factor for the economic feasibility of biodiesel production.
The primary reason for the PFI’s campaign is the insecurity they face in their dependence on animal waste as the primary ingredient in pet foods. The terrifying reality for the PFI is not climate change but the possibility of the loss of their reliance on the dirt-cheap source of waste animal fats and municipal solid waste they rely on to feed animals.
The pet food industry is just going to have to realize that consumers would rather have a healthy planet than cheap pet food.
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