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The Long Run Impact of Biofuels on Food Prices

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  • Chakravorty, Ujjayant

    ()
    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Hubert, Marie-Helene

    (Economics and Management Research Centre)

  • Nostbakken, Linda

    ()
    (University of Alberta School of Business)

Abstract

More than 40% of US grain is now used to produce biofuels, which are used as substitutes for gasoline in transportation. Biofuels have been blamed universally for recent increases in world food prices. Many studies have shown that these energy mandates in the US and EU may have a large (30-60%) impact on food prices. In this paper we show that demand-side effects - in the form of population growth and income-driven preferences for meat and dairy products rather than cereals - may play as much of a role in raising food prices as biofuel policy. By specifying a Ricardian model with differential land quality, we show that a significant amount of new land will be converted to farming which is likely to cause a modest increase in food prices. However, biofuels may increase aggregate world carbon emissions, due to leakage from lower oil prices and conversion of pasture and forest land for farming.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Alberta, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012-11.

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Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: 01 May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2012_011

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Keywords: clean energy; food demand; land quality; renewable fuel standards; transportation;

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  1. Bento, Antonio M. & Goulder, Lawrence H. & Jacobsen, Mark R. & von Haefen, Roger H., 2007. "Distributional and Efficiency Impacts of Increased U.S. Gasoline Taxes," Working Papers 127021, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  2. Gouel, Christophe & Hertel, Thomas, 2006. "Introducing Forest Access Cost Functions into a General Equilibrium Model," GTAP Research Memoranda 2215, Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University.
  3. Chen, Xiaoguang & Huang, Haixiao & Khanna, Madhu, 2011. "Land Use and Greenhouse Gas Implications of Biofuels: Role of Technology and Policy," 2011 Annual Meeting, July 24-26, 2011, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 103216, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  4. Cranfield, J. A. L. & Preckel, Paul V. & Eales, James S. & Hertel, Thomas W., 2002. "Estimating consumer demands across the development spectrum: maximum likelihood estimates of an implicit direct additivity model," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 289-307, August.
  5. Rajagopal, Deepak & Zilberman, David, 2007. "Review of environmental, economic and policy aspects of biofuels," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4341, The World Bank.
  6. Thomas W. Hertel & Wallace E. Tyner & Dileep K. Birur, 2010. "The Global Impacts of Biofuel Mandates," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 75-100.
  7. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Magne, Bertrand & Moreaux, Michel, 2009. "Endogenous Resource Substitution under a Climate Stabilization Policy: Can Nuclear Power Provide Clean Energy?," Working Papers 2009-19, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 01 Sep 2010.
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Cited by:
  1. BAHEL, Eric & MARROUCH, Walid & GAUDET, Gérard, 2011. "The Economics of Oil, Biofuel and Food Commodities," Cahiers de recherche 02-2011, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  2. Ujjayant Chakravorty & Marie-Hélène Hubert & Beyza Ural Marchand, 2012. "Food for Fuel: The Effect of U.S. Energy Policy on Indian Poverty," CESifo Working Paper Series 3910, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Stephen P. Holland & Jonathan E. Hughes & Christopher R. Knittel & Nathan C. Parker, 2013. "Unintended Consequences of Transportation Carbon Policies: Land-Use, Emissions, and Innovation," NBER Working Papers 19636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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