The myth that biofuels is a choice between food versus fuel is still perpetuated regardless of scientific data showing otherwise. The true fact about biofuels, including biodiesel, is that they produce food AND fuel. #Biodiesel’s role in both providing food and fuel, as well as in reducing carbon, were the topics of a presentation by Don Scott with the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) during the 2016 National Biodiesel Conference in Tampa, Florida.
Scott began his presentation by stating three things:
- Biodiesel complements the fuel supply.
- Solar energy is abundant and efficient.
- Mitigating climate change does not cost. It pays.
Biodiesel, said Scott, produces protein as a byproduct, an essential source of nutrition for humans. However, protein is expensive. But because biodiesel production only uses the oils (fat), protein is produced at a lower cost than average protein sources on the market.
Based on this fact, Scott had a motto, per se, during his presentation: “When we grow protein to feed the world, we naturally get more carbs, fat, and other fiber byproducts than we can eat.” Therefore, he said, it makes sense to use this excess fat to displace petroleum, and biodiesel is the best example of nature’s design for food and fuel. And an added bonus, while today biodiesel represents about 20 percent of the renewable fuel market, it provides 40 percent of the carbon reductions as a result of using these renewable fuels.
Learn more about biodiesel’s benefits by Listening to my interview with Don Scott: Don Scott Talks Food, Fuel and Carbon
2016 National Biodiesel Conference Photo Album
The publicly anti-ethanol organization Smarter Fuel Future has launched a campaign calling on Congress and the administration to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The coalition is backed by Big Oil along with various food, environmental and anti-hunger organizations.
In response to the campaign, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen said: “The oil industry thinks it’s being slick by engaging in a consistent and relentless misinformation campaign that is based on false assumptions, straw dogs, and half-truths. There is nothing that Big Oil is spouting with this latest wave of scare tactics that we haven’t seen before. Once again the petroleum industry is making patently false assumptions about the relationship between food and fuel. In 2014, a record corn crop sent prices to four-year lows, and more grain was available globally for food and feed use than ever before. In fact, less than 3 percent of the global grain supply that year was used for ethanol.
“The Big Oil misinformation campaign also makes spurious claims about ethanol’s impact on the environment. Lifecycle analyses by the Department of Energy and others, including the University of Illinois, the International Energy Agency, and Life Cycle Associates have shown that, since the final RFS rule was implemented, grain ethanol produced today reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent compared to fossil fuels — even when hypothetical land use emissions are taken into account. Ethanol production from last year reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40 million metric tons — the equivalent of removing 8.4 million cars from the road. These facts show that investment in biofuels in general and ethanol in particular is critical if we are serious as a nation about creating a future where our energy is cleaner, more secure, and more affordable.”
Dinneen, on behalf of ethanol supporters is calling on Congress and the administration to ignore the latest “smoke and mirrors” campaign from Big Oil. “Instead of repealing the RFA, Dinneen stressed, “the administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency, needs to break down the supposed ‘blend wall’ and implement the RFS the way Congress intended.”
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) has released new data showing that global food prices in August experienced the steepest monthly drop since 2008, which casts doubt upon concerns about the impact of ethanol production in food price increases.
According the the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA), the recent decline in food prices coincided with a period of record ethanol production expansion, reaching a high of 94 billion litres in 2014 from 83.5 billion litres in 2012, a 10% increase over this period.
The UN FAO Food Price Index averaged 155.7 points in August, down 5.2% from July, representing the steepest monthly drop since December 2008 with virtually all major food commodities registering marked dips. This drop coincides with a fall in crude oil prices in July of 19%, closing at $48.25USD per barrel on July 31.
The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) has for several years argued that the price of oil and energy inputs are the single most influential drivers of food and commodity prices. A number of international institutions including the World Bank, International Energy Agency (IEA) and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) have also recognised the strong relationship between oil prices and food prices.
Read more from GRFA.
Camelina could help end the food-versus-fuel debate for biodiesel. This article from the American Society of Agronomy says that new research found that growing camelina with soybeans in the Upper Midwest has promising signs.
Russ Gesch, a plant physiologist with the USDA Soil Conservation Research Lab in Morris, Minnesota, found encouraging results when growing Camelina sativa with soybean in the Midwest.
Camelina is a member of the mustard family and an emerging biofuel crop. It is well suited as a cover crop in the Midwest. “Finding any annual crop that will survive the [Midwest] winters is pretty difficult,” says Gesch, “but winter camelina does that and it has a short enough growing season to allow farmers to grow a second crop after it during the summer.”
Additionally, in the upper Midwest, soils need to retain enough rainwater for multiple crops in one growing season. Gesch and his colleagues measured water use of two systems of dual-cropping using camelina and soybean. They compared it with a more typical soybean field at the Swan Lake Research Farm near Morris, MN.
First, researchers planted camelina at the end of September. From there growing methods differed. In double-cropping, soybean enters the field after the camelina harvest in June or July. Relay-cropping, however, overlaps the crops’ time. Soybeans grow between rows of camelina in April or May before the camelina plants mature and flower.
While dual-cropping might not work for everyone, such as farms in the more arid West, where it does work, it also offers benefits, such as boosting soybean yields. Plus, the camelina flowers offer a good food source for pollinators at a time when there might not be a lot for the bees to eat.
As we wait (and wait and wait and wait) for the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision regarding the amount of ethanol and biodiesel to be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply, one group is taking the time to debunk some myths that might be giving the EPA a reason to hesitate. Media Matters has issued a report debunking the “food-versus-fuel” myth, along with several possible Renewable Fuel Standard-stopping myths.
MYTH: Renewable Fuel Standards Raise Food Prices…
FACT: Ethanol Production Does Not Divert Food Or Raise Prices
CBO Report: RFS Will Not Significantly Alter Food Prices. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed how the RFS will impact the economy beyond 2014 and determined that it will have no significant impact on food prices. The CBO also stated that if the standards were increased to meet the initially proposed requirements by 2017, it would result in increased spending on food by just one-quarter of 1 percent…
MYTH: Ethanol Will Harm Your Vehicle…
FACT: Rigorous Studies Show That Ethanol Does Not Harm Engines
DOE: Industry-Funded Study Claiming Ethanol Hurts Engines Is “Significantly Flawed.” Patrick B. Davis, the manager of the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program, published an article critiquing the CRC study that found E15 and E20 (a gasoline blend with 20 percent ethanol) hurt auto engines. The DOE concluded that the study was “significantly flawed” because it did not establish a proper control group and that it cherry-picked vehicles “already known to have durability issues”
The report also presents plenty more facts debunking myths about how ethanol is supposed to actually be bad for the environment and how biofuels are heavily subsidized, among others.
An updated version of the paper “Fueling a Nation, Feeding the World,” has been released by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The publication outlines ethanol’s contribution to the global food and feed supply and also contains information that RFA said disproves the “fabricated food vs. fuel” debate.
“The U.S. ethanol industry has quietly evolved into one of the largest feed processing sectors in the world, generating nearly 40 million metric tons of high-protein, high-energy animal feed in the 2013/14 marketing year,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “The RFA publication is a resource intended to educate policymakers and consumers about the industry’s role in producing feed, to counter the nonsensical food vs. fuel notion, and explain the benefits of ethanol production and co-products for both food and feed markets.”
The booklet outlines the co-products of ethanol production, such as distillers grain, corn distillers oil and corn gluten feed. For example, a 56-pound bushel of corn will yield 2.8 gallons of ethanol and 17 pounds of distillers grain, which is commonly fed to beef cattle, dairy cows, swine, poultry, and even fish. The handbook explains that “the feed produced by ethanol plants in 2013/14 would be enough to produce nearly 50 billion quarter-pound hamburger patties — or seven patties for every person on the planet.”
The publication concludes by stating, “Not only are U.S. ethanol producers helping to meet future demands for energy, but they are also helping to meet the increasing food and feed needs of a growing world.”
RFA will be sharing the booklet with international buyers and U.S. producers of ethanol-related co-products, such as distillers grain, at the Export Exchange taking place in Seattle, Washington October 20-22 2014.
With record corn production forecast this year comes lower corn prices, which makes the food versus fuel argument harder than ever to make, according to Growth Energy.
Total corn production is now projected at 14.475 billion bushels, 550 million bushels more than last year’s record, while the average price received by farmers is expected to be $3.40 per bushel, the lowest price in eight years.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports the international food price index is down 6.0 percent over the last year, grain prices are down nearly 9 percent since 2013, but meat prices are nearly 22 percent higher than a year ago.
Domestic food prices are up 2.5 percent compared to December 2013, nearly the same as the overall Consumer Price Index, which is up 2.1 percent for the same period. But while corn and other grain prices are rapidly declining, consumer meat prices are up 11.6 percent since last December.
“The current WASDE projections and recent reports from the FAO and Bureau of Labor Statistics further confirm that there is virtually no correlation between U.S. ethanol production and consumer food prices,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “Corn prices are below the cost of production for most farmers, and ethanol is selling approximately $1.00 per gallon less than the gasoline on the wholesale marketplace.”
“As integrated livestock and poultry companies brag about their record profits and margins to their stockholders and investment bankers, the Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council and The National Council of Chain Restaurants, all allies of Big Oil, continue their campaign to intentionally mislead Americans about the cause of rising food prices in the U.S,” Buis added.
In this edition of the Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses ethanol production for the year so far, new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) ad campaigns and gives his thoughts on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations that are under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review.
In addition, he touches on record corn crop production, on why the food versus fuel debate should end and Quad County Corn Processors cellulosic ethanol production grand opening.
Ethanol Report on Ethanol Production, RFS Food EPA
In this edition of the Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper talks about how corn prices have fallen but food prices continue to rise, and how that shows the “food versus fuel” argument is false.
A new report from RFA compares corn prices to the price of dairy products, pork products, beef products, and poultry and egg products from January 2007 – July 2014.
Ethanol Report on Corn and Food Prices
The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) has released a new report today in an effort to “debunk” what they call the “fictional” food versus fuel debate. The report finds that while corn prices have dropped dramatically over the past two years, retail food prices of key foods including eggs, beef, poultry and pork have remained steady or continue to increase. The report concludes, “… fluctuations in corn prices do not significantly affect consumer food prices.”
The report examined a number of factors that contribute to food prices including the cost of food production, pointing to Citibank’s Sterling Smith who stated, “Corn prices may have come down 50% (from their highs), but that doesn’t mean a box of corn flakes will fall 50% in price. Much of the price of food comes from the processing and movement of food…” Additionally, the report also highlighted the role of crude oil in retail food prices, finding that “…every step in the food supply chain is significantly affected by energy costs—especially crude oil.”
The report also compared corn prices to the price of dairy products, pork products, beef products poultry products and egg products from January 2007 – July 2014. Report findings include:
Retail prices for key dairy items like milk and cheese have been largely unresponsive to changes in corn prices. In fact, since January 2011, milk and cheese prices have been negatively correlated to corn prices, meaning retail milk and cheese prices have tended to move in the opposite direction of movements in corn prices.
- Retail prices for items (like chicken legs, frozen whole turkey, fresh whole chicken) have risen steadily and smoothly since 2007. Wide swings in corn prices did not interrupt or affect the gradual trend toward higher prices for these items.
- Retail prices for pork products have not shown any meaningful relationship to corn prices over the past seven years. It is well documented that the recent acceleration in pork and bacon prices has been driven by piglet casualties resulting from Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv). These retail price increases have occurred at a time when corn prices have been plunging.
- Retail ground beef prices have steadily and smoothly trended higher over the past seven years, showing no obvious response to wide swings in corn prices.
“The food vs. fuel folks screamed to high heaven when the price of corn rose during the drought and immediately blamed high corn prices and ethanol for food price increases,” said Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO. “However, these same critics remain suspiciously quiet now that corn prices have dropped, but retail food prices aren’t dropping along with them. The food vs. fuel argument is just another misguided attack on biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard, which is reducing foreign oil dependence, lowering gas prices for consumers, and revitalizing rural America.”