Can Biofuels Make Your White Castle Slider More Expensive?

White Castle is among the chains that wants Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard, which it blames for rising food prices. (National Journal)

If you find yourself paying more for a Slider, Thickburger, or Baconator, you might want to blame the renewable-fuel standard, says a video put out by Feed Food Fairness in opposition to the corn-ethanol mandate.

Refiners will likely blend around 13 million gallons of corn ethanol next year — a level set by the Environmental Protection Agency — which some say is driving up prices across the food industry for other corn-dependent products. Feed Food Fairness is a campaign launched this summer by the National Council of Chain Restaurants to push for repeal of the standard.

White Castle President Lisa Ingram says in the video that her company has seen a 47 percent spike in beef prices since the start of the renewable-fuel standard, with the implication that much of that jump is due to increased feed prices for cattle farmers. The increase carries a $15,000-per-restaurant cost, she said. "When we have fluctuations in our food costs, that impacts our ability to be able to provide value to our customers," Ingram said.

Hardee's and Wendy's franchisees also speak out against the standard, saying it cuts their profits and, by extension, job creation.

Last week, 165 House members signed a letter calling for reductions in next year's corn-ethanol mandate. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., are expected to unveil legislation this week that would eliminate the corn-ethanol mandate altogether. Industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute have also called for a reduction in ethanol blends, but biofuels makers are pushing back with arguments that cutbacks would hamper a growing industry.