More thoughts on ethanol after the State of the Union...what will farmers do, and have they read the research?

In the State of the Union message this past week, the President gave, as part of his solution to the increasing problems of gasoline supply, an increasing emphasis on ethanol. There has been some considerable debate about whether this will work, but I thought I would follow a couple of different thoughts today. The first relates to what the farmers might be doing in order to benefit from this coming bonanza, and the second is to see how much research is actually being done.

Looking around for some information (thanks to Google) I came across the Food and Policy Research Institute which is a joint program between the Universities of Iowa and Missouri. It makes projections each year on the future development of the markets, and since it is located in the Midwest, it seemed a good starting place to look at what might be going to happen in the corn business. Interestingly in their latest report on ethanol the number that they project for ethanol production is not that different from the President’s (35 billion gallons).
Estimates of the long-run potential for ethanol production can be made by calculating the corn price at which the incentive to expand ethanol production disappears. Under current ethanol tax policy, if the prices of crude oil, natural gas, and distillers grains stay at current levels, then the break-even corn price is $4.05 per bushel. A multi-commodity, multi-country system of integrated commodity models is used to estimate the impacts if we ever get to $4.05 corn. At this price, corn-based ethanol production would reach 31.5 billion gallons per year, or about 20% of projected U.S. fuel consumption in 2015. Supporting this level of production would require 95.6 million acres of corn to be planted. Total corn production would be approximately 15.6 billion bushels, compared to 11.0 billion bushels today. Most of the additional corn acres come from reduced soybean acreage. Wheat markets would adjust to fulfill increased demand for feed wheat. What I found interesting about that statement (the full report is available as a pdf) was the remark about where the corn would come from. And on the basis that a picture is worth a thousand words, I found this within another pdf presentation , that had some interesting numbers.

What it shows is that the Institute does not see a significant change in the amount of acreage that will be planted, as the following table also shows, through the next few years.

Now what this is going to do to our export market for grain does not likely bode well for those folks down in Mexico worried about the rising price of tortillas , though it may encourage more local production.

The presentation also had a bioconversion chart, that may be useful, so I am including this also.

Now if corn can thus increase the amount of ethanol to close to what the President needs, one presumes that the remaining 10% or so of new production will come from ethanol produced from a cellulosic source. The Government plan for cellulosic research came from a workshop held in 2005, following which DoE published a roadmap for research to meet the goals. Doe has a special Biomass Program . It is interesting to see where the program is investing. There are two efforts at National Labs, one at PNNL , which is the Pacific Northwest National Lab located at Hanford in Washington State. Interestingly one of their projects is with UOP, and I did hear a rumor the other day that UOP were one of the partners in the award from DARPA on the jet fuel from biomass program – we will see.

The other National Lab that gets significant funding is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory , although that program does not look quite as large, it also houses the National BioEnergy Center. Under partnership with the Department of Agriculture there is also a Biomass Research and Development Initiative The projects they finded last year (for a total of $17 million) were:

One thing struck me, going through to try and find this information, and it was that there are not a whole lot of different programs that are easy to find. Now I know that there is some private research going on ( Vinod Khosla springs to mind), but if we are to put some $1.8 billion into this program, one would have thought that there would have been a bit of a stronger research base on which to properly invest to get the needed results in the time available. I guess one will have to wait and see where the money actually gets spent.

Back in August the Government had announced that they will spend $250 million on two BioEnergy Research Centers

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman announced today that DOE will spend $250 million to establish and operate two new Bioenergy Research Centers to accelerate basic research on the development of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. The Secretary made the announcement with Congressman Jerry Weller (IL-11th), local officials and biofuels stakeholders during a visit to Channahon, IL. . . . . . . Universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations and private firms are eligible to compete for an award to establish and operate a center. Awards, based on evaluation by scientific peer review, will be announced next summer. The centers are expected to begin work in 2008 and will be fully operational by 2009.

The centers’ mission will be to conduct systems biology research on microbes and plants, with the goal of harnessing nature’s own powerful mechanisms for producing energy from sunlight. A major focus will be on understanding how to reengineer biological processes for more efficient conversion of plant fiber, or cellulose, into ethanol, a substitute for gasoline.

The only problems I have with this effort is that it concentrates the funding rather than spreading it among a larger number of investigators, thereby limiting the number of fresh ideas that will be developed (one occasionally gets the idea that the federal view on innovation is that it wasn’t invented at MIT or some such place it has little promise), and secondly, given the length of time it is going to take to establish these centers, it is unlikely to have any impact at all on the current production plans.

ED by PG...Don't forget about Engineer Poet's interesting piece on this as well, Sustainability, Energy Independence, and Agricultural Policy.

Note the new reddit and digg counters! just click on them and hit the up arrow/digg button to help out!

Don't forget or your other favorite link farms, such as metafilter, stumbleupon, slashdot, fark, boingboing, furl, or any of the others if you are so inclined.

I can assure you that the authors appreciate your efforts to get them more readers.

Krugman laced into corn for ethanol in NYT editorial today...sorry I don't have a link. He described it as "a really bad idea with bipartisan support"

Ethanol from cellulose has been a sham from the beginning. There is very
little real difference in energy advantage between corn and cellulose. Here's
why-- (I think the paper in Science by Farrell contains the information I am
referring to: _
( )

"Ethanol from cellulose has been a sham from the beginning."

Why? Because you say so?

Aside from being wrong, you've also managed to highlight Farrell's work wherein cellulosic ethanol production is advocated for its GHG, petroluem input reduction and positive EROEI values.

Krugman is correct in his analysis but wrong in his conclusions. This is what he said in today’s NYT column (behind a pay wall)

In fact, corn is such a poor source of ethanol that researchers at the University of Minnesota estimate that converting the entire U.S. corn crop — the sum of all our ears — into ethanol would replace only 12 percent of our gasoline consumption.

This analysis is flawed. If we are to consider ethanol as a primary fuel, and an even partial replacement for fossil fuels, then we must allow the ethanol production infrastructure to stand on its own spindly straw legs. We must demand self-sufficiency of the fuel, and assume in our calculations corn production and distillery are run on ethanol--not gasoline.

After all, we are looking to ethanol to replace some or all of our petroleum, so we must consider the entire corn-to-ethanol process is fueled by ethanol. Otherwise why use petroleum in a pointless inefficient conversion when the resulting ethanol is less energy dense and would require larger storage than gasoline? So some of the ethanol flowing out the back end of the ethanol plant must be rerouted around to the receiving dock to make more ethanol.

Hence the need for Net Energy calculations. Krugman’s UoM researchers stopped calculating at a very very inopportune moment. This is what they did.

The US consumes 9.5 million barrels gasoline per day
US consumer 145 billion gallons gasoline annually.(9.5 million gallons per day * 365 days in year * 42 gallons per barrel)
Annual US corn crop harvest is 10 billion bushels.
Ethanol yield is about 2.5 gallons per bushel.
10 billion bushels * 2.5 gallons ethanol per bushel corn = 25 billion gallons of ethanol.
Ethanol has less energy density so 25 billions/1.5=16.7 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent
16.7 billions gallons of ethanol / 145 billion gallons gasoline used annually = about 12%

This is the final calculation they neglected.

One gallon net production requires three gallons input into that production because corn ethanol has an EROEI of 1.34 to 1.

So 16.7 billions gallons/4 = 4.2 billion gallons.

Thus to restate Krugman's conclusions:

In fact, corn is such a poor source of ethanol that researchers at the University of Minnesota estimate that converting the entire U.S. corn crop — the sum of all our ears — into ethanol would replace only 3 percent of our gasoline consumption.


I think it should go like this:

In fact, corn is such a poor source of ethanol that researchers at the University of Minnesota estimate that converting the entire U.S. corn crop — the sum of all our ears — into ethanol would replace only 12 percent of our gasoline consumption of which 3% would be new BTUs and 9% from conversion of coal, natural gas and oil.

I don't entirely agree with this point either:

So some of the ethanol flowing out the back end of the ethanol plant must be rerouted around to the receiving dock to make more ethanol.

We don't demand that other energy systems are self sufficient. No one says a windmill must be be only constructed using energy from wind. There are good reasions why the ethanol should, and eventually probably will, be rerouted around to the receiving dock. Once adequate scale exists, it should be possible to construct farm equipment that runs on hydrous ethanol. In this configuration, engines get nmore output from the same BTUs, EROEI would improve from reduced transportation of fuels, and hydrous ethanol can have water content of 5% or so, reducing energy wasted in distillation.

However, in the meantime, any requirement that ethanol facilities use only ethanol for their fuel input is impractical for reasons that have nothing to do with the theoretical utility of the exercise.

We don't demand that other energy systems are self sufficient.

yes we do. If they are to be our primary energy source. We don't bother to make fossil fuels out of fresh vegetables so why make ethanol from coal.

If this is only an energy-conversion scheme as you suggest then why not go straight from coal to gasoline using fischer tropsch synthesis? Why bother to convert diesel to corn and then coal to ethanol? There are so many wasted steps and opportunities for inefficient energy conversion in these schemes.

Once adequate scale exists, it should be possible to construct farm equipment that runs on hydrous ethanol.

Theoretically yes we could build them. But then that assumes a positive eroei, which is questioned by very competent scientists. Regardless and practically an 'adequate scale' can never exist. Not if we hope to motor and eat.

However, in the meantime, any requirement that ethanol facilities use only ethanol for their fuel input is impractical for reasons that have nothing to do with the theoretical utility of the exercise.

Correct. There is no ethanol available and there never will be because these ludicrus schemes will not scale up.

yes we do. If they are to be our primary energy source.

Actually, you are wrong on two counts. No one is claiming that ethanol can or should be our primary energy source and there are a lot of non-oil inputs into finding, producing and refining petroleum products.

The bulk of scientists do seem to claim that ethanol from corn does have a slightly positive energy balance. There is no reason why US corn-based ethanol could not scale to a size adequate to fuel significant portions of its inputs using its outputs.

None of this means that corn-based ethanol isn't a farce at best. The marginal amount of new energy producted is certainly not justified by the environmental damage done in producing it. Further, the plan to produce huge quantities of ethanol distracts from other solutions such as electric vehicles and conservation from higher prices.

I am opposed to the current US corn-based ethanol programs. I am just think that the arguemnt can be better made on these facts and that there is no need to make up new ones.

I've been thinking about dusting off my old 1958 John Deere combine, which can harvest shelled corn, and growing a field to see what kind of return I can get.

If the economy goes into recession and the price drops, I'll just feed the crop to my cattle, who truly love a little corn to supplement their hay.

If you've got a paid-for ranch, and a paid-for combine, it seems like raising some corn could be a pretty good deal.

And, of course, use the corn proceeds to buy some more solar panels and a wood-burning stove.

The focus is on corn but not sugarbeets do you know why? The #'s look better.

Well, then I guess we'll need a sugar-beet subsidy ...

LOL...of course, I missed that.

We have close to that, in a sugar subsidy. With current sugar at .18 cents per lb, and return to etoh around .10 cents, beets have a long way to go. And I imagine the sugar industry will fight sugar to etoh tooth and nail.

No doubt a bunch are wondering that. Where the numbers start crunching is in an operation's soy to corn spread. I've read a few ag notes which suggest switching 20% out of soy into corn. But all also say to lock in your base corn with a contract today, right now, use the soy 20% for spec. today's contract is 4.00.

Especially with gas down, many are wondering if these prices will hold. They've been burned before, often, and aren't sure they want to jump. Today's contract future price looks great, but Sep prices are another matter.

It would be nice, if not done on TOD already, is for RR or someone to post a series of tables depicting the relationship between corn prices, ethanol prices and oil prices. I believe 2.00 gas and $4.50 corn won't fly, but it'd be nice to see the break even spread over a range of oil and corn prices.

I agree that the ethanol focus in public policy is absolutely the wrong thing to do in terms of facing the Peak Oil and Global Warming problems.

The real focus ought to be on conservation, followed by conservation, and then a bit more conservation. Lower the ecological footprint of the average US consumer dramatically. It will happen sooner or later, one way or the other.

After focus on this significant cultural transformation -- ELP -- we can make our next priority to fund more research and implementation of renewables. We should focus on generating electricity from wind and solar and biomass plants, and also should focus a bit on liquid fuels, although I don't see any sustainable way to get liquid fuels.

Somehow the whole energy plan seems tailored to bolster American car companies rather than to make positive changes with regard to energy security.

Energy security includes the sustainability component. Extraction of energy from plants that deplete soil and use massive amounts of water will not be helpful for very long, especially at considerable scale.

The problem seems to be that people love to throw around the word conservation, but much less frequently get into "how".

I think that a uniform global carbon tax, or even oil tax, would spur conservation. A tax in the US would create some conservation, but there could be partial "Jevon's Paradox" related offsets in other countries if the US conservation drove prices down.

Voluntary conservation is a nice idea, along the lines of "let's just be nice to each other". But it is hardly a policy prescription for one of the largest problems facing mankind.

IEEE Spectrum magazine has an article about ethanol.
Loser: Corn-o-copia.

Estimates corn ethanol EROEI to be 1:1 at best. Using coal to distill it will only make enviromental issues worse.

Corn ethanol appears to be a bad idea ecologically and for global warming.

But it will be pursued to maximum effect, because in the end it will be fantastically profitable for a few people.

Consider it this way:

It is like discovering a coal-fed oil well in Illinois.

I guess I approve of the systems biology initiative, but I wonder why straight chemical engineering (gasification, etc) isn't being seriously investigated as well?

Isn't this going after the really difficult path instead of the easier path?

Plants and microbes have their own evolutionarily dominated needs.

I wonder what the btu return would be on just burning the corn kernels for heat in a corn/pellet burner vs the btu return for ethanol. Both energy analysis and economic analysis should look at the return on investment for alternative allocations of resources. Those who support ethanol based on an allegedly positive EROEI neglect to point out what the alternative returns would be both from an economic and energy standpoint. Of course, when you are being subsidized, you only worry about whether or not the subsidy is big enough to render a profit.

There is, of course, the argument that supporting ethano production now with taxpayer's money will lead to bigger real returns in the future. I think that is about the only slim reed available to support this boondoggle.


Here is one part of the equation.

Shelled corn contains about 7-8K btu/pound.

Burning the corn probably does make more sense from a purely thermodynamic standpoint. However what we are after here is liquid fuel, not just btus. You can't burn corncobs in your Hummer.

You sir, are 100% correct.

Peak Oil is a LTF or liquid transportation fuels crisis -not an energy crisis- ergo the thrust of any mitigation strategy must be focused on transportation fuel production but more specifically, net petroleum reduction applied from within our existing infrastructure.

Yes, but I use far more propane than gas. It makes more sense to burn gasoline in my Prius and corn in a corn burner. If we are going to use corn for its btu content, why not use it where it will do the most good and have the best EROEI? If the concern is that we have a liquid fuel problem, then replacing propane is relevant. For that matter, we also have a potential natural gas problem so the same logic would apply.

"I wonder why straight chemical engineering (gasification, etc) isn't being seriously investigated as well?"

Gasification has been investigated, however, investigations of this sort -irrespective of the alt energy production path addressed- are expensive, time consuming and typically true R&D efforts that may never progress to commercial deployment.

As such, these types of investigations are often government based initiatives that are only as 'serious' as the dollars that support it.

Have you seen Thomas Reed's website?

I feel that burning woodgas or the gasification route to methanol and dimethyl ether (for diesels) has been neglected or deliberately ignored. Stock objections to the methanol route from the ethanol lobby include:

  • It is too toxic: methanol is probably less toxic than gasoline:
  • It has too low an energy density: A typical car might loss 15% of its trunk space due to the larger methanol fuel tank required to match a typical gasoline storage tank.

If gasification technologies received just 10% of what we are paying to subsidize ethanol, we would have a robust and practical silver BB in five years.

Yes, there is indeed a lot of debate as to whether or not methanol should be reconsidered as an alt fuel replacement - DME as well, albeit to a lesser degree.

There are a number of issues surrounding methanol deployment as you point out and that certainly includes the effects of the ethanol lobby, however, the benefits of one fuel over the other are negligible.

One of the more interesting papers that I've read on the subject focused on the methanol/ethanol tug-o-war in Sweden. Ethanol won out (if you could call it that) because of one single element - agricultural surplus.

The main problem with methanol outside of the above then is:

a) the public doesn't know about it
b) there are no federal incentives supporting its usage
c) it is far cheaper to produce methanol from NatGas feedstocks thus, there are no commercial incentives supporting the production of bio-methanol
d) dwindling continental NatGas supplies necessitate a better usage strategy i.e. heat for homes

The problem with many ethanol processes is the energy requirements for heating. Solar and wind could be used for this, but generally they don't. Corn requires energy inputs for cultivation as well. Some processes also produce large amounts of CO2. I think Iogen is on the right track with fungus and termite guts.

Corn needs lots of nitrogen. Which means more natural gas demand - and seasonal peaks, at that, which may co-incide with winter draw.

It also creates competiton for the resource.

Question is, given the fickleness of goverment policy, will gas rich countries invest in more urea capacity, or consider it too risky?

Fickle politics aside, even the escalating cost may dissuade US farmers from too heavy a focus on corn.

The Oil Drum

In his guest post yesterday ("Ten Fundamental Principles of Net Energy") Cutler Cleveland demonstrated that unless we calculate the energy costs to manufacture a primary energy replacement from dwindling petroleum supplies, then that scheme is merely an inefficient liquid-fuel conversion gimic.

The assumptions of Food and Policy Research Institute outlined above need to be edited for mathematic content. Thus :

At this price, corn-based ethanol production would reach 31.5 billion gallons per year, or about 20% of projected U.S. fuel consumption in 2015. Supporting this level of production would require 382.4 million acres of corn to be planted. Total corn production would be approximately 62.4 billion bushels, compared to 11.0 billion bushels today.

So we would need to increase our current corn production six-fold just to supply 20% of projected fuel consumption.

There is no such land on the planet earth. Is this insane or what?


that would be 'gimmick' not 'gimic'


You can edit your posts, as long as no one has replied to them.

Thanks Leanan. So I see it is now too late to go back and fix both.


Another big booboo.

Meant to say “unless we calculate the energy costs to manufacture a primary energy replacement using the primary energy replacement for input instead of dwindling petroleum supplies . . ”

Sorry. In my rush to publish I was not completely diligent I hope this is the end of this :(


From Saturday's Wall Street Journal Online:

All Eyes Are on Corn Prices at ADM ($$$)

Already, profit margins for ethanol plants have dropped precipitously in light of falling oil prices and rising corn prices.

The average net profit of a 50-million-gallon ethanol plant in the U.S. dropped to just below two cents a gallon Friday, down from 50 cents a gallon on Jan. 1, according to DTN, an agricultural-commodities-research firm in Omaha, Neb.

Which corresponds well with the 4.05 break-even corn price HO quotes above. Because corn is now at or very close to that price.

The dealers don't want the junkies switching from cocaine to heroin.

No... what the $4.05 benchmark tells us is this won't scale up. ADM has cleared the one-time money. Now, too many distilleries are in the game. Maybe we can grow enough corn to drive the per/bushel price down... or maybe we will have a drought in Kansas.

What has to happen is simple: the news media has no choice but to investigate ethanol and report honestly. Pretending "surprise" or feigning ignorance at the boondoggle next year won't make circulation numbers rise. MSM's credibility is on the line if this goes much further.

The WSJ coverage has indeed been negative lately. But it's not new. Barrons ran a very negative piece many months ago.

Another piece today does not pull punches:

In some parts of the world, notably Australia, the market for alternative fuels has already started to look like a bust, with the local media referring to "carnage" in the sector as once-hot companies cancel share offerings or watch their stock prices tumble.

Second, it's becoming clear that boosting output of agriculture-based fuels, such as ethanol, will cause significant new strains on the world's water and land resources, and could drive prices of basic foodstuffs to unacceptable heights, hurting poor consumers.

But even as the outlook for alternative energies darkens, some analysts see a more positive outcome from the latest turbulence: a forced redirection of resources toward alternative fuels that are more efficient and sustainable than the current batch.

Alternative-Fuels Push May Inspire Some Better Bets

A couple of days ago they ran a piece called:

Very, Very Big Corn

which ended with:

So here comes Big Corn. Make that Very, Very Big Corn. Sooner or later, our experience with this huge public gamble may make us yearn for the efficiency, capacity, lower cost and -- yes -- superior environmental record of "Big Oil."

Robert Rapier could have written it!!

(for the record, I'm not claiming he's actually a lobbyist!! Don't sue me, RR!)

Some earlier quotations in the Big Corn piece:

Even the most optimistic estimate says ethanol's net energy output is a marginal improvement of only 1.3 to one. For purposes of comparison, energy outputs from gasoline exceed inputs by an estimated 10 to one.

A bit of sobriety would go a long way in discussing this moonshine of the energy world, however. Cellulosic ethanol -- which is derived from plants like switchgrass -- will require a big technological breakthrough to have any impact on the fuel supply. That leaves corn- and sugar-based ethanol, which have been around long enough to understand their significant limitations. What we have here is a classic political stampede rooted more in hope and self-interest than science or logic.

And I think I'll stop there to avoid further abusing copyright.

It's not just the WSJ that is questioning this push. Many on TOD have noted the growing opposition by our export nations, ie Mexico and tortillas. Last fall livestock producers hemmed and bitched, but really didn't want to come out to soon on anything which increased farm prices. They might get serious if this continues too long and high, or if passed through higher meat prices decrease sales.

Note this comment from Tyson Foods, the chicken king:

"We remain on track to meet our earnings guidance for the year, but emphasize the dramatic rise in corn prices has become a major issue for us and others in the food industry. Companies will be forced to pass along rising costs to their customers, meaning consumers will pay significantly more for food. If left unaddressed, the bigger long-term issue will be the availability of U.S. and global grain for protein and other foods. We fully support efforts toward renewable energy; however, as the food versus fuel debate unfolds, we must carefully consider the negative and unintended consequences of over-using grains."

As for the political rationale for this ethanol push, I noted on today's drumbeat a dynamic that is rarely discussed. That political support may hinge on a desire to to fix the current price support system, up for renewal in the election year of 2008.

The story is among those in Leaan's header


Looks like you have gotten yourself a subscription to the Wall Street Journal Online. A good investment, IMO.

Note that the Very, Very Big Corn piece was an unsigned editorial, an opinion essay. The unsigned WSJ editorials are the most conservative opinion pieces you will find in the MSM, so it is safe to assume that this is the conservative opinion regarding ethanol. Indeed, Russ Limbaugh was heard lambasting it last week after the State of the Union, and Forbes just ran an article in the February 12, 2007 print edition called Caught With Its Pants Down: Desperate Times for Ethanol Producers (free registration required).

The other WSJ references you cited were from the reporting side of the newspaper. I often wonder whether the views from the op-ed page "leak" into the reporting pieces, but in general I don't think they do. I think the paper does a good job of keeping them separate.


Yes, I definitely should have clearly indicated above that those later quotations were from an opinion piece.

Thanks for your assessment of their editorial stance. Sure as heck fits with what I've seen so far.

Truth be told, it was the stuff you shared here on TOD that lured me into getting a subscription! They owe you a commission.

I don't mean to muscle in on your territory, though. :-)

Over the past couple of months I came to the conclusion that I had to get access to the best reporting I could find on energy issues -- free or not. My distrust of the main stream media is not as great as is common here. Blogs are great for analysis, but there is no substitute for professional reporting. It was your postings that convinced me that the wsj is allocating decent resources to covering energy issues.

Just noticed they frequently have an "Oil Roundup".


I too don't reflexively distrust the mainstream media. For example, the WSJ has been totally on top of the Cantarell story, publishing three key articles on February 9, 2006, August 2, 2006, and January 27, 2007. Although most of the op-ed pieces are dismissive of peak oil, their reporting seems to be open to the possibility, including but not limited to the series on Cantarell.

Unfortunately for TOD readers, the WSJ articles are of limited usefulness because they are not free. Leanan is usually able to find the best ones shortly after they are published, often at She also discovered that the graphics are free; as such, these are often the best features of the articles, e.g. the Cantarell decline graphic at the top of Monday's (1/29/07) Drumbeat.

For others who may be considering a subscription, the online edition is available for $99/year. If you already subscribe to the print edition, the online edition is $49/year. Subscription info is available here.

Yes, the Oil News Roundup is very good, sort of a mini-drumbeat. I think it is published every day, but there is not always a link to it on the home page.

Don't worry about muscling in, I don't own the source, and I could use the help. :-)

The reason it won't scale up is twofold. Vehicles don't burn that much ethanol right now and corn ethanol isn't the way to go. When they start making more E-85 vehicles and ethanol from old landfill bluejeans it will be a different story.

Thinking about it I surmised that its possible that the food demands from world importers might push the corn prices to the point where ethanol becomes less than break-even(EROEI yada yada)..or even with the subsidy the profit will shrink still below unity and all those plants to be built might not materialize after all.

This would be setting a new floor for the price of corn due to demand dictates then.

What the wise ethanol plant ownership would have to do is buy up contracts at the price they can afford and possibly contract directly with the farmers.

First they might not have to dry the corn unless it was going to be stored(12% or less). Second damage to the kernels might be less important. What I am speaking of is what farmers are 'docked' for at the grain elevators.

Moisture,infestation, dirt and debris,mold(aflatoxin,etc),damage etc.
Also storage fees might come into play as well as less distance to haul. Costs about $.15 per bushel to haul if not too far.

However the grain evelators outfits might be planning plants of their own at their sites. Such as I hear some are.

An interesting study would be the economics of 'current' ethanol plants. If they cannot afford to make a profit I doubt the others would continue with startup plans.

When it sinks into the various ag universities regarding the negative aspects of corn into ethanol then we might see it all begin to fold.

The farmers do listen to what the ag profs tell them by and large but take it with some doses of salt. In other words they take nothing just on the sayso. They want to see concrete evidence.

IMO if the case can't be made economically then I don't see it really happening. The final chapter of the book hasn't been written as yet.

Farmers are sorta excited for now but they have been here before. You r not going to fool them with a lot of handwaving. Might be a few years of good prices. Might stay at $4 for a long time or higher as the worlds agriculture slowly dries up. Australia for instance.

What the farmers have to do beyond all else is conserve their ground. Not be led willy nilly into cultivating everything they can. I see more clearing of land lately than any time in the last 20 years or so.

The farmers I know who can't even say grace over all the the money they make have done it by the simple process of buying up land when the prices were cheap. Back in the 80's. If you own over a thousand acres you are accorded 'landed gentry status' in the county.
You get the best seat at the coffee shop and everyone laughs at your stupid jokes. If you own 2,000 or more you walk on water.

Must I state that God is not creating it any more? Without good dirt we go back to the caves and trees IMO. And what is that statistic about farmers? 2%? TWO PERCENT? Really?

Perhaps the best phrase I've seen yet, to describe the ethanol-o-mania by the gov't, is "Liquid Pork". I think that comes from the PorkBusters website.

Please recognize the difference between 'corn-ethanol' and ethanol.


The problem is that the PTB are still treating this as a money problem, instead of what it is, an energy problem. They figure if they throw money at the problem it will go away. Nothing will keep us going the way we are now. However, cold processes and those that use wind or solar will yield the best results in the long run. They just haven't figured it out yet and they will only learn the hard way.

This is quite a good presentation on Biofuels.

To listen to the presentation you have to be a member of EVWorld however the presentation is extremely interesting on its own. It has some numbers for comparison.

It gives Petroleum the figure of $8.8/GJ and electricity $11.1/GJ. It also gives the extremely low figure of $2.4/GJ for cellulostic ethanol. I am not sure how he arrived at this figure as this is not a production process yet but he seems to think that this makes ethanol better than oil.

Finally there is an equation for the amount of extra land is needed to produce biofuels.

NNLFP= {VMT /(MPG •YPf))-I}. (1/P)

NNLFP: Net new land,ignoring changed land for food production (acres)
VMT: Vehicle miles traveled (miles/yr)
MPG: Miles/gallon gasolineequivalent
YPf: Process yield (gallons gasoline equivalent/ton dry biomass)
I:Feedstockproduced from currently-managed lands (ton dry biomass)
P:Productivity of biomass production (tons/acre/year)

However what I got from that is that there is no way that the cars of the USA can be fuelled by ethanol. The terms MPG needs to be increased VMT needs to be decreased significantly before ethanol even has the smallest chance of succeeding.

That is you will have to drive smaller cars a lot less. From my discussions about car size I am not sure that this will be a palatable message. In Australia we have some of the conditions to allow this. We have large taxes on petrol that have reduced VMT and vehicle size. However we do not have mandatory vehicle fuel consumption targets for our manufacturers.

To me ethanol will force smaller more fuel efficient cars and/or plug in hybrids AND force a rise in fuel taxes to reduce VMT. Do yo think that this will happen. To me the push for ethanol is being sold as a method of large cars and being able to drive wherever you want whenever you want exactly as it is today with cheap oil. I do not think people will want to switch fuels AND still have to make compromises.

I keep telling people that BIOFUELS CANNOT PRODUCE ENOUGH TO FEED OUR INTERNAL-COMBUSTION VEHICLES.  The problem is INSUFFICIENT CARBON CAPTURE.  And now I see even the ASPO is saying the same thing.

Will the public believe the numbers, or do we have to back them up with liberal application of clue-by-fours?


In reading your post and some of the responses, I thought it perhaps important to highlight the following...

The President's SOTU alternative fuel target (alternative being the keyword here) is not intended to met by ethanol production. Nor for that matter, was this target created under the preposterous notion that corn ethanol alone would somehow scale up to 35 Billion gallon a year capacities in 10 years - a notion which sadly to say, has been seized upon by the anti-ethanol crowd and played out ad nauseum.

What is not said though and perhaps more importantly, what is not known by those outside of industry/government circles, is that both the word 'alternative' and the associated timeline/usage levels included in the SOTU were specifically drawn from an in-depth, expert analysis of the alt-fuel options currently in commerical deployment, on the verge of commercial deployment and/or on the horizon to do so within the timeframes warranted.

Specifically speaking, I refer (as I have here at TOD for some time now) to the 2nd and 3rd generation alt fuel production paths that compliment an overall integrated biorefinery program that capitalizes on the existing fuel production infrastructure. Needless to say, corn ethanol is part of said infrastructure and for better or worse, this type of ethanol is here to stay.

Corn ethanol producers therefore, can and should be expected to respond accordingly to the increased production targets but don't think for a second that market forces (as outlined in prior posts) i.e. feedstock, ethanol, rail, construction, energy costs etc. let alone competition from the new production paths proper, will not play significant roles in determining corn ethanol's future.

And for those of you who believe that all the corn grown in the US will one day be made into ethanol instead of food and who frantically compute projected corn yields versus 'proposed' ethanol plant capacity (NOOB put your pencil down)... I'm sorry but your falling for and promulgating a scare tactic on a level that borders Y2K.

BTW - although I go to great lengths NOT to promote my specific company affiliation at TOD, perhaps next time instead of refering to a Khosla venture, you just may consider refering to the work of a fellow TOD member =]

Exactly my sentiment.

BTW, are you referring to coal liquification and the American Energy Security Study?

No, I don't think so. Coal liquification is great for NASA but not so much for autos or the environment for that matter.

The SSEB study you highlight, however, is hands down one of the best publications concerning current and future energy policy to date.

Academics, pundits and doomers alike, often ridicule the car culture of the south for its percieved weaknesses and drawbacks and yet some of the best, no nonsense solutions I've ever come across are tabled by those who will be affected the most by Peak Oil.

I highly reccommend that every TOD member go through this study although at 200+ pages you may want to take it home for the weekend.

Sorry, I'll try and remember in the future.



I believe you are attempting to say switchgrass will save our sorry asses. Do you have any evidence for this?


Wrong again NOOB... Looking forward to the day when your posts don't make false and blanket assumptions.

Interestingly in their latest report on ethanol the number that they project for ethanol production is not that different from the President’s (35 billion gallons).

I care to differ and have been posting about this repeatedly.

31.5 billion is 20% of projected 2015 use or 160 billion gallons.

35 billon is 15% of projected 2017 use or 235 billion gallons.

We currently use 144 billion gallons/year.

I see projections of 1.7%/yr, so that gives us 170 billion in 2017, not 235.

Also, the 8.5 billion from CAFE improvements is 5% of 170 billion.

Bush's numbers are off. The math doesn't square.

In reply to Syntec, what the President sends to Congress and what eventually becomes law are two different things. There is an excellent chance that the farm and environmental lobby will strip out the coal-to-liquids part and the price safety valves and will send back to the President a simple mandate for 35 billion gallons of ethanol. This he will then sign.

At 2.65 gallons of ethanol per bushel of corn, 35 billion gal will need 13.2 billion bushels of corn and will yield 4.1 billion bushels of dried distillers grains as a by-product.

2004 US corn production = 10.1 billion bushels.
2005 US corn production = 11.8 billion bushels.

There isn't enough corn, so maybe we will feed barley and wheat into the ethanol plants as well. In practise, converting our entire corn crop is a fantasy because people won't stop eating steak and turkey and corn flakes and Coca-cola. People will pay more for these staples and will curse the government. Corn prices will rise to the point where American ethanol is undercut by imports from Brazil.

35 billion gallons = 2.2 million bbl/day of ethanol.

1 gallon of ethanol produces 62% as much heat as one gallon of gasoline.

So 2.2 million bbl/day ethanol = 1.4 million bbl/day of gasoline. This would reduce gasoline demand by 15% and oil demand by 7%.

Producing ethanol consumes large quantities of natural gas. If all the production used natural gas then it would consume something like 5% of our natural gas supplies, which would have to be imported from places like Nigeria and Quatar. However, ethanol distilleries could be run on abundant US coal and the fertilizer imported from elsewhere.

"So 2.2 million bbl/day ethanol = 1.4 million bbl/day of gasoline. This would reduce gasoline demand by 15% and oil demand by 7%."

Divide that by 4 to allow for the EROEI of 1.34 to 1.

We don't use a valuable liquid fuel like ethanol to fuel ethanol. Liquid fuels are mostly used for transportation because they are compact and easy to handle and store. We use natural gas instead. Potentially we could use coal.

Instead of EROI I simply point out that ethanol will use 5% of our NG supply. That is a problem.

On a liquid fuels basis ethanol's return is something like 8:1.

I concur on the 'what is said/what is law' aspect of your assertion but if I can refer back to my post there are 3 elements I wish to reiterate.

First off, there's no way the entire US grain crop would be used for ethanol production. To suggest otherwise, is akin to saying there will be no more meat production in America. Not going to happen.

Second and as mentioned above, the word alternative was specifically used instead of ethanol alone because a strong proponnent for this term are the oil majors who are rapidly moving into alt fuels as quickly as they can without rocking the investment community.

Thirdly, the 35 billion gallon target of 'alt' fuels has basically given the green light to both Ag AND oil (and to a lesser degree coal) for the production of as much liquid fuels as possible irrespective of which sector has the best production path. Cellulosic AND thermo-chemical ethanol are expected to make up a large portion of this target.

And lastly in response to your post...

There are ethanol producers that do not use NatGas in the production of ethanol (E3, Panda, Okanogan) while many others in the industry are moving to green waste and landfill cogen opportunities - a most recent exmaple of this can be found in Iowa. (sorry no link).

The next phase involves deployment of integrated biorefineries that capitalize on both cogen capability AND 2nd gen bio-chemicl ethanol production paths see: SunOpta.

Meanwhile, an organic corn ethanol mandate would increase efficiencies across the board hitting NatGas usage (fertilizer), petroluem inputs (herbicides/pesticides) and the environment (hydrologic table) in one fell swoop.

The EROEI of ethanol does not matter.

If we don't convert the entire corn crop then the ethanol will have to come from somewhere else. There are two proven alternatives. One is imports from places like Brazil. Their capacity to supply us is limited. The other proven alternative is coal-to-liquids, which can take some of the pressure off of corn but which is capital intensive and can only expand at a limited rate. There is also a petrochemical route from NGLs, but the government has blocked that in the past because it undercuts corn ethanol on price.

Everything else is speculation. The trouble with this mandate is that the American people will be forced to buy 35 billion gal of "alt" fuels regardless of the price and regardless of wether there is any sensible way of producing that much. The ethanol or alternative fuel industry already gets a 50c/gal subsidy. Why does it need a mandate as well?

I don't agree with the import tariff; subsidies may be necessary and mandates certainly are.

Cellulosic ethanol is a proven alternative - Iogen has been producing it for years now, while SunOpta and Broin are building the first US commercial plants as we speak. Whether or not cellulosic ethanol is commercially feasible vis-a-vis the price of gasoline though, is a whole other story.

Please keep in mind that Peak Decline will dictate the price of fuel whether we want to pay higher prices or not. Moreover, that today's market economy will not be able to recognize Peak -nor Peak Plateau for that matter- and the market fluctuations of the latter will negate the necessary commercial signals for Peak mitigation strategies to be deployed in the geologic timeframe alloted us.

The longer we wait to launch an alt fuel Apollo project... the more drastic and costly the petroleum triage.

We must also keep our eyes on this:

It is interesting how quickly DuPont and BP jumped onto the Bio Butanol option, and may indicate that real possibilities are there.

The intent seems to be to introduce first in the United Kingdom;

This would seem to be exactly the right strategy for two reasons:
(a) Britian has rather high gasoline prices by our standards, so the fuel would be competitive there if anywhere on price and (b) Britain is facing a real liquid motor fuel crisis VERY soon. The decline in the North Sea is leaving Britain with a crisis that must be confronted soon, and a viable liquid fuel from biomass may be their only way out, at least for awhile.

We are now watching the bio butanol industry and DuPont with great interest.

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom.

My lab is the recipient of a lot of money from DOE for what is now called the "Helios Project". "Termite guts" decoding is one aspect, but so is "improved" miscanthus, artificial photosynthesis (10% goal!!), algae biodiesel, and a bunch of other efforts. It's basically redirected the mission of the lab. Though the director understands peak oil, his public presentations use the EIA 2037 peak date graph (the one where we don't peak til 81% of our resources are depleted), so thus greatly understates the urgency of the problem. But then, it's a lab, not the real world. I surveyed a wide range of scientists and engineers about the time it takes to go from lab discovery to full commercialization. The average response was about 20 years, quite in line with what Hirsch noted in his report.

Getting from here to there is a lot more challenging than the cellulosic ethnanol proponents would have you believe (or the average techno-optimist here). Here is a summary of the technical challenges--all of which must be solved-- before cellulosic ethanol even has a chance in this world. All of this (with a few footnoted additions) is taken from DOE's Biomass Roadmap cited above (and credit to a brilliant friend who compiled it):

Resource and Sustainability Barriers
1. Biomass feedstock will ultimately be limited by finite amounts of land and water
2. Biomass production may not be sustainable because of impacts on soil compaction, erosion, carbon, and nutrition.
3. Nor is it clear that perennial energy crops are sustainable, since not enough is known about their water and fertilizer needs, harvesting impacts on the soil, etc.
4. Farmers are concerned about the long-term effects on soil, crop productivity, and the return on investment when collecting residues.
5. The effects of biomass feedstock production on water flows and water quality are unknown
6. The risks of impact on biodiversity and public lands haven’t been assessed.

Economic Barriers (or Investors Aren’t Stupid)
1. Biomass can’t compete economically with fossil fuels in transportation, chemicals, or electrical generation.
2. There aren’t any credible data on price, location, quality and quantity of biomass.
3. Genetically-modified energy crops worry investors because they may create risks to native populations of related species and affect the value of the grain.
4. Biomass is inherently more expensive than fossil fuel refineries because
a) Biomass is of such low density that it can’t be transported over large distances economically. Yet analysis has shown that biomass plants need to be large to be economically attractive – it will be difficult to find enough biomass close enough to be delivered economically.
b) Biomass feedstock amounts are unpredictable since unknown quantities will be lost to extreme weather, sold for food and feed rather than ethanol, from rotting or combustion in storage, and above all, farmers aren’t stupid, they won’t destroy their land to make a small amount of money from grain and crop residues, especially as fertilizer costs inexorably increase.
c) Ethanol can’t be delivered pipelines due to likely water contamination. Delivery by truck, barge, and rail is more expensive. Ethanol is a hazardous commodity which adds to its transportation cost and handling.
d) Biomass varies so widely in physical and chemical composition, size, shape, moisture levels, and density that it’s difficult and expensive to supply, store, and process.
e) The capital and operating costs are high to bale, stack, palletize, and transport residues
f) Biomass is more geographically dispersed, and in much more ecologically sensitive areas than fossil resources.
g) The synthesis gas produced has potentially higher levels of tars and particulates than fossil fuels.
h) Biomass plants can’t benefit from the same large-scale cost savings because biomass is too dispersed and of low density.
5. Consumers won’t buy ethanol because it costs more than gasoline and contains 34% less energy per gallon. Consumer reports wrote they got the lowest fuel mileage in recent years from ethanol due to its low energy content compared to gasoline, effectively making ethanol $3.99 per gallon. Worse yet, automakers are getting fuel-economy credits for every E85 burning vehicle they sell, which lowers the overall mileage of auto fleets, which increases the amount of oil used and lessens energy independence. (Consumer Reports)

Equipment and Storage Barriers
1. There are no harvesting machines to harvest the wide range of residue from different crops, or to selectively harvest components of corn stover.
2. Current biomass harvesting and collection methods can’t handle the many millions of tons of biomass that need to be collected.
3. There isn’t enough biomass since farmers aren’t stupid – they won’t sell enough residue to make the nearest biomass refinery economically viable.
4. How to store huge amounts of dry biomass hasn’t been figured out.
5. No one knows how to store and handle vast quantities of different kinds of wet biomass. You can lose it all since it’s prone to spoiling, rotting, and spontaneous combustion

Preprocessing Barriers
1. We don’t even know what the optimum properties of biomass to produce biofuels are, let alone have instruments to measure these unknown qualities.
2. Incoming biomass has impurities that have to be gotten out before grinding, compacting, and blending, or you may damage equipment and foul chemical and biological processes downstream.
3. Harvest season for crops can be so short that it will be difficult to find the time to harvest cellulosic biomass and pre-process and store a year of feedstock stably.
4. Cellulosic biomass needs to be pretreated so that it’s easier for enzymes to break down. Biomass has evolved for hundreds of millions of years to avoid chemical and biological degradation. How to overcome this reluctance isn’t well enough understood yet to design efficient and cost-effective pre-treatments.
5. Pretreatment reactors are made of expensive materials to resist acid and alkalis at high temperatures for long periods.
6. To create value added products, how to biologically, chemically, and mechanically split components off (fractionate) needs to be figured out.
7. Corn mash needs to be thoroughly sterilized before microorganisms are added, or a bad batch may ensue. Bad batches pollute waterways if improperly disposed of.

Cellulosic Ethanol Showstoppers
1. The enzymes used in cellulosic biomass production are too expensive.
2. An enzyme that breaks down cellulose must be found that isn’t disabled by high heat or ethanol and other end-products, and other low cost enzymes for specific tasks in other processes are needed.
3. If these enzymes are found, then cheap methods to remove the impurities generated are needed. Impurities like acids, phenols, alkalis, and salts inhibit fermentation and can poison chemical catalysts.
4. Catalysts for hydrogenation, hydrgenolysis, dehydration, upgrading pyrolysis oils, and oxidation steps are essential to succeeding in producing chemicals, materials, and transportation fuels. These catalysts must be cheap, long-lasting, work well in fouled environments, and be 90% selective.
5. Ethanol production needs major improvements in finding robust organisms that utilize all sugars efficiently in impure environments.
6. Cheap, efficient fermentation organisms that can produce chemicals and materials is key to making the process economic.
7. Efficient aerobic fermentation organisms to lower capital fermentation costs.
8. Fermentation organisms that can make 95% pure fermentation products.
9. Cheap ways of removing impurities generated in fermentation and other steps are essential since the costs now are far too high.

thanks for the insight

Not going to comment on this topic(well I did once) except to share this website URL.

Its a very interesting website for those who are interested in ethanol credits, subsidies,and so forth.

Nobody knows what the farmers are going to do. They don' know for sure themselves. But its a good guess that lots of soybean land will likely to to corn. I see that N. Dakota and even some of Montana is going to be planting corn in areas they didn't in the past.

There always this quibble about how corn needs such huge amounts of nitrogen. Does anyone know the 'crop uptake' for corn in N,P,and K?
I doubt it so here is a site from UK showing recommended application rates.Judge for yourself.

And BTW there is no soil sampling labs I am aware of that can give you the N values. At least none that a farmer could use at that I am aware of at a reasonable cost. UK does the test that I have sampled and they do a very good job but nothing is given for the nitrogen.

There for its not that precise and is a judgement call.

Let me add one more caveat. Farming is not yet a science IMO. There is a heck of a lot of scientific endeavors devoted to it but many times they appears to be incorrect or not very predictive. Soil and weather are too variable. There is nothing better than experience with the land you tend to and know. Thats just the way it is with row cropping. Grasslands management is something I used to do a lot of and its far easier that row cropping. Cattle as well. I knew a lot about raising and caring of horses and cattle. Row cropping takes a lot of skill and experience and a lot of money and huge equipment costs.

Whats going to happen with ethanol and farming? I dont' think we will know til its happening. Sorta like PO in a way. You don't know the harvest until its in the bins.

Thanks. Incentive link is great. Really shows the pork and earmarks.

An eyepopping report on the full range of subsidies, federal and state, is in the report "Biofuels: At What Cost. Government Support for Ethanol and Biodiesel in the United States" at

A couple of comments on some late posts
1) in spite of everything biofuel can work in 700 million cars and trucks and has a lower carbon footprint
2) corn needs too many off-farm inputs to be the basis of a biofuel industry which should aim for closed loop

However my main point is a strong impression I picked up on Australian TV tonight; US farm support will be a liability with trade negotiations. Australia punished the people who gave kickbacks to Iraq under the Oil-for-Food program so now basically farmers down under get close to zero help. Next I think trade negotiators will say cut out all US farm support including ethanol credits. It won't happen of course but for years it will be like salt on a wound.

Question: what are the mechanics of how ethanol is produced from corn or biomass? (I think there was a TOD article on this but I can't find it)
I understand that there is a great deal of natural gas used in the production process.
I am trying to figure out how much natural gas will be required to achieve Bush's target.

My point is that there are two main strategies now for liquid fuel mitigation: oil sands and ethanol. Both of these require very large amounts of natural gas in the production process.
Both of these have very aggressive ramp up plans of fixed ivestment to increase production

The third area of (new and unforcast) natural gas usage is electricity generation, and over the past 10 years over 100B of new production capacity has been put in place. Again large capital fixed investment.

If natural gas supply were to stay flat or decline, as Margaret Thatcher would say, There is No Alternative (thats why they called her TINA when she dismantled the govt infrastructure in the 1980s)
This infrastructure cannot easily be switched to another fuel. Its not like gasoline, where people can reduce discretionary driving, or take the bus, if the prices go up. These large producers are locked in to natural gas and will have to pay whatever the market demands, regardless.

Sunday's Des moines Register (jan 28) had an article about using DDGS as boiler fuel for the distillery. Stanley Consultants in Muscatine, IA has researched using the cow manure to produce methane and found it lacking the output to do the job. Their conclusion is that twice as much methane can be generated by eliminating the cow from process. By putting the DDGS directly into the digester the use of nat gas could be completely eliminated. The post digestion residues are an urea rich fertilizer which could replace the use of anhydrous ammonia on the farm thereby eliminating even more fossil fuel from the ethanol production cycle.
If distillers would extract the corn oil from the feedstock and made biodiesel then the fossil fuel used by farm equipment could be eliminated.
Step by step the need to use fossil fuels in the corn belt disappears and money exported out of the corn belt goes down.

Right, I've read all the comments and it seems everyone (as usual with ethanol) is missing the point.

The ethanol programme is NOT a fuel programme. Its a farm support programme.

It is essentially a system to encourage the construction of a huge sink for surplus corn production. Which should act as a price floor for corn due to ethanol mandates.

The bulk of US corn production is used as an animal feedstock. If you're planning on feeding corn to cattle, you might as well ferment the sugars out first to make a useful vehicle fuel. Cattle don't digest the sugars anyway. And the byproduct of corn ethanol is of course, dried/wet distillers grain(DDG). Which, up to a point, is a useful animal feed.

As far as I'm concerned this corn crop would be grown anyway for livestock feed. Even if ethanol was banned tommorrow the corn crop (along with its associated fertiliser consumption) would still be grown.

The only energy which should be used to calculate the energy balance, is the EXTRA energy used to haul the corn to the distillery and the gas used to ferment/distill it.
And of course the extra energy used to plant extra corn to make up the loss of corn volume as its made into DDG.

When viewed in this respect ethanol's energy balance is much better.

However in this circumstance the US shouldn't be mandating huge increases in ethanol production. It should only be "skimming" the ethanol from its livestock feed corn that it would be making anyway.

But, hey, as the saying goes. "Americans can be counted on to do two things, take a good idea and run it completely into the ground, and take a bad idea and run it completely into the ground."


Again, if you're going to comment on ethanol, please differntiate between corn ethanol and ethanol in the context of your post.

As for your assertion re: programmes...

Yes, corn ethanol was developed as a farm support programme similar to that fostered in Sweden, however, with the rise in price of corn to sustainable levels for the first time in decades, a plethora of farm support subsidies have been essentially annexed as a direct result. Moreover, it should be readily apparent that the corn ethanol industry is rapidly evolving into a fuel programme -one that runs in parallel to DOE policy- and the DOE most certainily DO NOT see ethanol (note the distinction) as a farm support programme.

I agree with you on the DDGS comments.

I would add that we have yet to see how the inclusion of this by-product will affect the agro-economy.