"Since its inception in 2007, biofuel mandates have been a primary catalyst for rising food input costs - including corn, up 48 percent and soyoil, up 36 percent," said food industry analyst Bill Lapp, president of Omaha-based Advanced Economic Solutions.
Those higher costs - some $12 billion over seven years – are ultimately passed on to the consumer, Lapp said.
"This issue affects chainsaws and chain restaurants," said Rob Green, executive director of the National Council of Chain Restaurants.
Green said he ended up on the same side of the issue as the oil industry because the heightened demand for corn resulting from the mandate was driving up feed prices, which in turn get passed on to restaurant owners.
The broad interest in the issue indicates that, whatever the EPA decides, a legal challenge is sure to follow.
"I fully expect that . . . the policy will be litigated," said Jack Gerard, chief executive of the API.