COLUMBUS – Increased ethanol demand in the United States will most likely put strains on the agricultural sector – from markets to the environment to crop production and food products.
Crop yield research. One Ohio State University agricultural economist suggests increasing expenditures on crop yield research to soften the blow of such impacts and keep the country internationally competitive.
“The idea is to build yield down the road so that we can accommodate food demand, fuel demand and the environment, while minimizing other potential suppliers coming in and taking our market share,” said Carl Zulauf, professor in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.
Creating a win-win solution through increasing yield is Zulauf’s way of encouraging others to recognize the direction the country is taking to become more energy independent, the pressures that it will create on the agricultural industry, and more important, that the change is long-term.
Policy decision. “We have made, as a nation, a generational policy decision in moving toward greater energy independence, and those types of decisions don’t fade away. We change the way we think, act and organize ourselves when we make a generational policy decision,” said Zulauf.
“One component of energy independence is likely to be some form of renewable energy. It isn’t clear yet what the mix of renewable energy will be, but at least in the short run you have to believe that corn-derived ethanol will be a component of meeting our desire for energy independence.”
Using corn as an energy source is already changing the dynamics of markets, producers and users.
“The ethanol industry is growing so large and so fast that its demand is now outstripping the country’s ability to supply that demand from historical increases in yields, which generally have been about 1.7 percent annually over the last 30 years,” said Zulauf.
Options. Several options are brought to the table as a result of trying to meet that demand:
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