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Ethanol and a Changing Agricultural Landscape

by Scott Malcolm, Marcel Aillery, and Marca Weinberg

Economic Research Report No. (ERR-86) 64 pp, November 2009

Cover images for err86 The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 established specific targets for the production of biofuel in the United States. Until advanced technologies become commercially viable, meeting these targets will increase demand for traditional agricultural commodities used to produce ethanol, resulting in land-use, production, and price changes throughout the farm sector. This report summarizes the estimated effects of meeting the EISA targets for 2015 on regional agricultural production and the environment. Meeting EISA targets for ethanol production is estimated to expand U.S. cropped acreage by nearly 5 million acres by 2015, an increase of 1.6 percent over what would otherwise be expected. Much of the growth comes from corn acreage, which increases by 3.5 percent over baseline projections. Water quality and soil carbon will also be affected, in some cases by greater percentages than suggested by changes in the amount of cropped land. The economic and environmental implications of displacing a portion of cornethanol production with ethanol produced from crop residues are also estimated.

Keywords: Biofuels, corn ethanol, regional crop mix, regional environmental effects, water quality, water use, cellulosic ethanol, crop residues, livestock, Regional Environment and Agriculture Programming (REAP) Model, renewable fuel standard

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Last updated: Sunday, May 27, 2012

For more information contact: Scott Malcolm, Marcel Aillery, and Marca Weinberg