Restaurant executives representing the country’s largest chain restaurant companies participated in a National Council of Chain Restaurants summit Dec. 7 in Washington, D.C., to consider an industry advocacy plan for engaging in the debate about reforming federal ethanol standards and subsidies.

Executives from the restaurants’ government affairs and supply chain divisions are aligning interests to more aggressively advocate on these issues. Among today’s participants were executives from Brinker International, Inc., Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, and The Wendy’s Company.

“NCCR is committed to positioning the chain restaurant industry to address the unique regulatory and legislative challenges confronting our members,” NCCR Executive Director Rob Green says. “Today’s meeting is intended to develop a more organized and sustained effort to address commodity-related issues from the unique perspective of food retailers.”

Almost two dozen chain restaurant executives attended the NCCR Food Supply Chain Committee meeting to discuss rising commodity prices, which have been dramatically impacted by skewed national ethanol policy.

The executives met with a key federal legislator, economists, and supplier allies to discuss how the nation’s renewable fuel standards are adversely affecting the chain restaurant industry, their customers, and increasing food prices.

“Through years of promoting ethanol as a solution to America’s energy issues, Congress has unknowingly worked to increase commodity prices on retailers throughout the supply chain,” Green says. “These subsidies have artificially increased the price of corn, which in turn has driven up costs for restaurants and the customers they serve. Today’s meeting, the third of its type this year, will help develop a clear roadmap for the industry to engage allies on Capitol Hill in future legislative and regulatory battles.”

This initiative follows a letter sent to the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in September detailing NCCR’s call for eliminating taxpayer subsidies to the ethanol industry. Specifically, NCCR member companies called for an end to the ethanol subsidy or VEETC, and the ethanol import tariff. Both subsidies are set to expire on December 31.

More recently, Representative Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has introduced two bills (H.R. 3097 & H.R. 3098) that seek to reform the nation’s ethanol standards.

Industry News, Legal