UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Colin Carter: Food vs. Fuel

Aug. 1, 2012

Professor Colin Carter co-authored a piece in the Op-Ed section of The New York Times on July 30, 2012, including recommendations to reduce the Federal renewable fuel standards to alleviate escalating corn prices and rising food costs. The drought in the Midwest has drastically reduced grain yields, driving up corn futures prices 60 percent since mid-June.

About 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce ethanol. The Federal standards require the blending of 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol with gasoline this year. This will require 4.7 billion bushels of corn, which is 40 percent of this year’s crop. Carter suggests that the Environmental Protection Agency could divert vast amounts of corn from inefficient ethanol production back into the food chain, where market forces and common sense dictate it should go.

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