Citing severe economic harm caused by the 2012 drought in his state, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) sent a petition Monday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requesting a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) mandating the production of ethanol.   

Deal becomes the fifth governor to request that EPA waive the RFS, joining the governors of Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina and Arkansas. 

“It is abundantly clear that … current and futures pricing of corn will result in severe economic harm in the poultry and livestock sectors,” wrote Deal in his petition sent to EPA. “Georgia is experiencing severe economic harm during this crisis, and important economic sectors in the state are in serious economic jeopardy. 

Deal declared that the harm to Georgia’s economy “is precisely of the type, character and extent that Congress envisioned when it granted EPA authority to waive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) applicable volumes.”

As Georgia’s largest industry, agriculture accounts for over 15.7 percent of the state’s economy in terms of sales and output and represents 11.2 percent of the state’s value added production.  Georgia agriculture has an annual impact of $68.9 billion on the state’s economy and provides 380,000 jobs to citizens of the state. 

Poultry and livestock are critically important components of Georgia’s economy. From a national perspective, Georgia ranks first in broiler production and third in value of eggs produced.  For the state, the poultry industry alone accounts for over $20 billion in annual economic impact.

Poultry producers are spending $1.4 million extra per day on corn, or $516 million per year, due to the drought and the upward pressure on corn prices caused by the demand created by the RFS for ethanol, according to the University of Georgia.

Deal’s petition comes after an announcement Monday from EPA that the agency is issuing a Federal Register notice opening a 30-day public comment period on requests from the governors of Arkansas and North Carolina to waive the RFS requirements. The statute provides the agency with 90 days in which to make a decision.