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Short-Run Price and Welfare Impacts of Federal Ethanol Policies

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  • Lihong Lu McPhail
  • Bruce A. Babcock

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Lihong Lu McPhail & Bruce A. Babcock, 2008. "Short-Run Price and Welfare Impacts of Federal Ethanol Policies," Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications 08-wp468, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:ias:cpaper:08-wp468
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Nora Lustig, 2009. "Coping with Rising Food Prices: Policy Dilemmas in the Developing World," Working Papers 164, Center for Global Development.
    2. Serra, Teresa, 2011. "Volatility spillovers between food and energy markets: A semiparametric approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1155-1164.
    3. Tyner, Wallace E. & Taheripour, Farzad & Perkis, David, 2010. "Comparison of fixed versus variable biofuels incentives," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 5530-5540, October.
    4. Jin, Zhong & Teahan, Brittany, 2009. "Iowa’s Tax Incentive Programs Used by Biofuel Producers Tax Credits Program Evaluation Study," MPRA Paper 14795, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Schmit, Todd M. & Luo, Jianchuan & Conrad, Jon M., 2010. "Estimating the Influence of Ethanol Policy on Plant Investment Decisions: A Real Options Analysis with Two Stochastic Variables," Working Papers 126963, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    6. Maxwell, Christian & Davison, Matt, 2014. "Using real option analysis to quantify ethanol policy impact on the firm's entry into and optimal operation of corn ethanol facilities," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 140-151.
    7. repec:eee:pubeco:v:161:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Tristan Skolrud & Gregmar Galinato & Suzette Galinato & Richard Shumway & Jonathan Yoder, 2014. "The Role of Market Structure and Federal Renewable Fuel Standards in the Growth of the Cellulosic Biofuel Sector," Working Papers 2014-02, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University.
    9. Bielen, David A. & Newell, Richard G. & Pizer, William A., 2018. "Who did the ethanol tax credit benefit? An event analysis of subsidy incidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 161(C), pages 1-14.
    10. McPhail, Lihong Lu & Babcock, Bruce A., 2012. "Impact of US biofuel policy on US corn and gasoline price variability," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 505-513.
    11. Vorotnikova, Ekaterina & Seale, James L, 2014. "U.S. Ethanol Mandate Is a Hidden Subsidy to Corn Producers," 2014 Annual Meeting, February 1-4, 2014, Dallas, Texas 162551, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    12. Koizumi, Tatsuji & Ohga, Keiji, 2009. "Impact of the Expansion of Brazilian FFV Utilization and U.S. Biofuel Policy Amendment on the World Sugar and Corn Markets: An Econometric Simulation Approach," Japanese Journal of Rural Economics, Agricultural Economics Society of Japan (AESJ), vol. 0, pages 1-24.
    13. Timilsina, Govinda R. & Shrestha, Ashish, 2011. "How much hope should we have for biofuels?," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 2055-2069.
    14. McPhail, Lihong Lu, 2011. "Assessing the impact of US ethanol on fossil fuel markets: A structural VAR approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1177-1185.

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    Keywords

    ethanol policy; stochastic equilibrium model; welfare analysis.;

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