Thanks to a rush in investment, the renewable diesel industry is in a building boom in the United States and abroad "that is very comparable, I believe, to the ethanol boom of the mid-2000s," said economist Scott Irwin of the University of Illinois on Thursday.
After slowing with the collapse of the commodity boom nearly a decade ago, the conversion of grassland to row crops is accelerating in the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, said the World Wildlife Fund.
Since it revamped its pandemic relief programs in March to "reach a broader set of producers," the Agriculture Department has committed $8.75 billion in assistance to farmers and ranchers, including $750 million for the dairy sector and up to $1 billion for contract growers of pigs and poultry. Only a few items remained on its list for implementation on Tuesday, among them $700 million for biofuel producers.
With the Biden administration and the major U.S. automakers investing heavily in electric vehicles, rural Americans — especially those connected to farming — are concerned about the future of biofuels. Given that ethanol, primarily made from corn, is blended with the gasoline that powers the vast majority of the nation’s vehicles, the prospect of replacing gasoline with electricity has enormous implications for the rural economy. In 2019, the global biofuels market amounted to over $136 billion.(No paywall)
Projects in 23 states across the nation will receive a combined $26 million to install pumps, tanks, and other equipment for selling higher-blend biofuels, said the USDA on Thursday. The projects are expected to expand the availability of higher-blend fuels by 822 million gallons annually.
The market for corn ethanol will be stunted unreasonably if sales of gasoline containing a higher blend of the homegrown fuel are banned during the summer, said corn growers and two biofuel groups on Tuesday. They asked all 16 judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review a July 2 decision against year-round sales of E15, gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol.
On a voice vote, the Senate confirmed agricultural law expert Janie Hipp, who promised to be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table" in dealing with cattle prices and biofuels, as USDA general counsel. She was the first of President Biden's nominees for top-tier executive posts at USDA to see a Senate vote, but action could be near on others.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced up to $200 million in pandemic relief for loggers and timber haulers on Tuesday and said "there is more to come" for agriculture in the weeks ahead. Aid will include $700 million for biofuel producers and $980 million in dairy supports.
Despite losing two high-profile cases in seven days, the ethanol industry says the future is bright for the corn-based biofuel that it promotes as a low-carbon alternative to gasoline and a tool to slow global warming. “We view both decisions as only temporary setbacks but neither will deter …
The average gallon of gasoline sold during 2020 was 10.23 percent ethanol, the highest blend rate ever, said the Renewable Fuels Association. At the same time, 12.63 billion gallons of the biofuel were mixed into gasoline, the smallest amount in 11 years, declining in tandem with the reduction in travel and fuel sales that accompanied the pandemic, said the trade group.