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Short-Run Price and Welfare Impacts of Federal Ethanol Policies

High commodity prices have increased interest in the impacts of federal ethanol policies. We present a stochastic, short-run structural model of U.S. corn, ethanol, and gasoline markets to estimate the price and welfare impacts of alternative policies on producers and consumers of corn, ethanol, and gasoline. The three federal policies that we consider are the Renewable Fuels Standard, the blenders tax credit, and the tariff on imported ethanol. Our model examines the impact of these policies on prices during the 2008/09 marketing year. Our results show that in the short run, a change in U.S. ethanol policies would not have a large, immediate impact on corn prices. Eliminating any one of the policies would reduce average corn prices by less than 4%. Removal of all three programs would decrease average corn prices by 14.5%. The reason why the changes are relatively modest is that existing U.S. ethanol plants will only shut down if their variable cost of production is not covered. Changes in ethanol policies would have large distributional impacts. Corn growers, ethanol producers, and fuel consumers have a large incentive to maintain high ethanol consumption. Gasoline producers have a large incentive to reduce ethanol production and imports. Livestock producers have a large short-run incentive to reduce domestic ethanol production.

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Paper provided by Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University in its series Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications with number 08-wp468.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ias:cpaper:08-wp468
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  1. Amani Elobeid & Simla Tokgoz & Dermot J. Hayes & Bruce A. Babcock & Chad E. Hart, 2006. "Long-Run Impact of Corn-Based Ethanol on the Grain, Oilseed, and Livestock Sectors: A Preliminary Assessment, The," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 06-bp49, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  2. de Gorter, Harry & Just, David R., 2007. "The economics of U.S. ethanol import tariffs with a consumption mandate and tax credit," MPRA Paper 5504, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Lence, Sergio H. & Hayes, Dermot J., 2002. "U.S. Farm Policy and the Volatility of Commodity Prices and Farm Revenue," Staff General Research Papers 1779, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Lihong Lu McPhail & Bruce A. Babcock, 2008. "Ethanol, Mandates, and Drought: Insights from a Stochastic Equilibrium Model of the U.S. Corn Market," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 08-wp464, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  5. Schmitz Andrew & Moss Charles B. & Schmitz Troy G., 2007. "Ethanol: No Free Lunch," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-28, December.
  6. Kevin McNew & Bruce Gardner, 1999. "Income Taxes and Price Variability in Storable Commodity Markets," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(3), pages 544-552.
  7. de Gorter, Harry & Just, David R., 2007. "The Welfare Economics of an Excise-Tax Exemption for Biofuels," MPRA Paper 5151, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Sep 2007.
  8. Olga Isengildina-Massa & Scott H. Irwin & Darrel L. Good & Jennifer K. Gomez, 2008. "Impact of WASDE reports on implied volatility in corn and soybean markets," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 473-490.
  9. Ray, Daryll E. & Richardson, James W. & Torre Ugarte, Daniel de la & Tiller, Kelly, 1998. "Estimating Price Variability In Agriculture: Implications For Decision Makers," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 30(01), July.
  10. Bruce A. Babcock, 2008. "Distributional Implications of U.S. Ethanol Policy ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 533-542.
  11. Beghin, John C. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani E. & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Fuller, Frank H. & Hart, Chad E. & Kovarik, Karen & Tokgoz, Simla & Yu, Tun-Hsiang (Edward) & Wailes, Eric J. & Chavez, Eddi, 2007. "FAPRI 2007 U.S. and World Agricultural Outlook," Staff Reports 7296, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI).
  12. Baker, Mindy L. & Hayes, Dermot J. & Babcock, Bruce A., 2008. "Crop-Based Biofuel Production under Acreage Constraints and Uncertainty," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6352, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
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