Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report No. (IUS -6) 53 pp

October 1996

Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials Situation and Outlook Report (6)

With U.S. farmers now facing few restrictions on what they can plant, industrial crops will need to stay competitive-economically and agronomically-with other crops to ensure their continued viability. The 1996 Farm Act, which provides expanded planting flexibility, makes expected market returns and crop rotation needs or desires important factors as farmers decide which commodities to produce. In 1995/96, industrial uses of corn are expected to total 622 million bushels, down 18 percent from the previous year, mainly due to lower use for ethanol. Ethanol producers are in the midst of a financial squeeze, resulting from rapidly rising corn prices, only moderate gains in coproduct prices, and relatively stable ethanol prices. Tung oil is being produced in the United States for the first time since 1973. Crambe is again being grown in North Dakota after a year of no commercial production. Biodiesel commercialization faces a number of regulatory and market challenges in the United States. Approximately 37 million metric tons of paper and wood materials were recovered for recycling in 1994, providing a renewable source of inputs to manufacturers. Phytoremediation, the systematic use of plants to treat environmental contamination, is a potential low-cost technology that is being investigated to help meet environmental regulations. A special article examines possible biodiesel demand in three niche fuel markets-Federal fleets, mining, and marine/estuary areas-and estimates the potential impact on U.S. agriculture if soybean oil was used as the raw material for the biodiesel.

Keywords: Industrial crops, 1996 Farm Act, corn, ethanol, tung, crambe, biodiesel, hesperaloe, wool, wood materials, phytoremediation

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