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Measuring the Indirect Land-Use Change Associated With Increased Biofuel Feedstock Production: A Review of Modeling Efforts: Report to Congress

by Elizabeth Marshall, Margriet Caswell, Scott Malcolm, Mesbah Motamed, Jim Hrubovcak, Carol Jones, and Cynthia Nickerson

Administrative Publication No. (AP-054) 56 pp, February 2011

The House Report 111-181 accompanying H.R. 2997, the 2010 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, requested the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) in conjunction with the Office of the Chief Economist, to conduct a study of land-use changes for renewable fuels and feedstocks used to produce them. This report summarizes the current state of knowledge of the drivers of land-use change and describes the analytic methods used to estimate the impact of biofuel feedstock production on land use. The models used to assess policy impacts have incorporated some of the major uncertainties inherent in making projections of future conditions, but some uncertainties will continue exist. The larger the impact of domestic biofuels feedstock production on commodity prices and the availability of exports, the larger the international land-use effects of likely to be. The amount of pressure placed on land internationally will depend in part on how much of the land needed for biofuel production is met through an expansion of agricultural land in the United States. If crop yield per acre increases through more intensive management or new crop varieties, then less land is needed to grow a particular amount of that crop.

Keywords: Renewable fuels, feedstocks, biofuel, climate change, land use, economic model, agricultural economics

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Last updated: Saturday, May 26, 2012

For more information contact: Elizabeth Marshall, Margriet Caswell, Scott Malcolm, Mesbah Motamed, Jim Hrubovcak, Carol Jones, and Cynthia Nickerson

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