The February USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report out today includes some revisions in grain use numbers. This edition of the Ethanol Report podcast with Renewable Fuels Association Vice President of Research Geoff Cooper takes a look at those numbers and provides some perspective from the ethanol industry standpoint.
For U.S. corn supplies, USDA lowered its forecast of marketing year ending stocks to 675 million bushels, down 70 million bushels from the January estimate. The change comes from slight increases in the estimates of corn for ethanol use and sweetener/starch use. Globally, USDA is estimating a slightly smaller grain (wheat, rice, corn, etc.) supply than last year’s record amount of more than 2.7 billion metric tons. “People lose sight of the global picture of the grain markets,” Cooper says. “The fact of the matter is, the global grain supply remains very strong.”
Cooper says RFA believes USDA may be slightly overestimating corn for ethanol use, even though export demand prospects remain strong. “Even if we do assume that we export 300 or 400 million gallons of ethanol in this marketing year, that still means the domestic market is going to need to absorb the remaining 13.3 or 13.4 billion gallons, which seems unlikely given the E10 blend wall and the fact that E15 hasn’t really penetrated the market yet.”
The estimates are likely to re-ignite the food versus fuel debate, but Cooper notes that higher prices will likely mean farmers will plant more corn this year. “It’s a basic concept that farmers respond to price signals,” he said.
Listen to the Ethanol Report here: Ethanol Report on February WASDE