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Brazil proposal sparks concern for farmers

A recent proposal by President George W. Bush to encourage imports of renewable fuels, such as ethanol, from Brazil has sparked concern by some farmers.

Tom Buis is president of the National Farmers Union and said, "Transferring the United States' addiction on foreign oil to foreign biofuels doesn't make sense. America's family farmers and ranchers are prepared to meet the challenge President Bush set in his State of the Union address to increase our country's use of renewable fuels."

The proposal would allow foreign ethanol producers to forgo the 54-cent-per-gallon ethanol tariff by importing Brazilian sugarcane and processing it in the Caribbean, which is exempt from the tariff.

Sunnyside area farmer Ted Durfey grows canola that is converted into a bio-diesel fuel. He shares Buis' concern that facilitating the import of foreign bio-fuels "could have a negative impact on family farmers, ranchers and American taxpayers".

Durfey also agreed that, "Using U.S.taxpayer dollars to encourage new ethanol production in foreign countries will only directly compete with production right here at home. Instead, we should be investing our resources in building our own domestic renewable fuels capacity. This agreement is the wrong step in the wrong direction at the wrong time."

Buis concluded, "Ethanol production is the only sector in agriculture that has seen a decrease of consolidation, a direct result of farmer-owned biofuels production facilities," He added, "We should not jeopardize this achievement by having U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for foreign-owned biofuel production."

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