"Hours after the Department of Agriculture said the corn yield would likely fall to its lowest since 1995, worse than forecast, the governors of two poultry-producing states asked the Obama administration to waive the ethanol requirement, the first formal request for relief.
Pressure is also building internationally, as poorer countries bear a larger burden of rising food costs. The top United Nations food official, José Graziano da Silva, wrote in the Financial Times that an "immediate, temporary suspension" of the mandate could help head off another world food crisis.
Bill Lapp, president of Advanced Economic Solutions, said U.S. food inflation would reach 4.5 percent next year, adding about $30 billion to domestic costs.
"Globally it's a much more direct impact, a more immediate impact," he said. "A greater deal of the food consumption is done without further processing so you can have a much more dramatic impact in global prices. That's what's compelling the United Nations to ask for some relief on the biofuel mandates."