USDA Projections of Bioenergy-related Corn and Soyoil Use for 2010-2019
AgMRC Renewable Energy Newsletter
Extension Agricultural Economist
K-State Research and Extension
The United States Department of Agriculture released long term projections for grain and energy markets at its 2010 Agricultural Outlook Forum at Arlington, Virginia on February 18-19, 2010. Specifically, the USDA’s Agricultural Projections for the 2010 through 2019 period included estimates of world and U.S. energy prices, ethanol and biodiesel production, and the quantity of U.S. feedgrains and oilseeds to be used in bioenergy production processes. The USDA’s long-term projections were prepared by the Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee.
The USDA’s long term projections are based on assumptions about macroeconomic conditions, policy, weather, and international developments, with no accounting for domestic or external shocks to global agricultural markets. The USDA assumes that current laws and agricultural policies will continue into the future through-out the 2010-2019 projection period. Should government policies or market conditions change markedly from current trends, then these projections would be expected to be less accurate. These USDA projections were prepared during October through December 2009, based on a composite of model forecast results and judgment-based analyses of the USDA Interagency Agricultural Projections Committee. As stated in the USDA’s report…
“Prospects for the agricultural sector in the near term reflect continuing U.S. and global adjustments to the recession of 2008-09 and the subsequent economic recovery. A resumption of steady global economic growth will support increases in consumption, trade, and prices in the longer run. Additionally, long-run developments for global agriculture reflect continued demand for biofuels, particularly in the United States and the European Union. The value of U.S. agricultural trade and cash receipts to farmers grow through the projection period.”
The USDA’s stated purpose for the development of these long-term agricultural projections is to provide at least a starting point for discussion of alternative supply-demand balance scenarios and price outcomes for the U.S. and world grain markets in the 2010/11 marketing year. It is stated that these projections are conditional in nature, i.e., they are dependent on the underlying assumptions about current U.S. farm and energy policy, macroeconomic conditions, agricultural productivity, and normal grain and oilseed production conditions during 2010. Assumptions about grain and oilseed market supply-demand conditions are based on the November 2009 USDA WASDE report.
Bioenergy related assumptions for 2010-2019
Provisions of current U.S. law are assumed to remain in effect through the 2010/11 projection period, including the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Act), the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008. The USDA indicates that…
“Long run developments for global agriculture reflect continued demand for biofuels, particularly in the United States and the European Union (EU). Although increases in corn-based ethanol production in the United States are projected to slow, ethanol demand remains high and affects production, use, and prices of farm commodities throughout the sector. Expansion of biodiesel use in the EU raises demand for vegetable oils in global markets.”
Key assumptions and implications in this long term analysis
Major assumptions in the analysis regarding a) U.S. and World economic growth, b) the value of the U.S. dollar, c) oil prices, d) domestic and international biofuel policy and trends, and e) bioenergy impacts on U.S. grain prices are explained below.
The USDA projects that U.S. and world economic growth will recover from the global financial crisis and economic recession of 2008/09. Then, transition back to steady economic growth with the world and U.S. economies growing at average rates of 3.3% and 2.5 to 2.7%, respectively, over the 2010-2019 period.
U.S. dollar value
The USDA projects that the U.S. dollar will depreciate in value over the next decade in relation to other major world currencies. Depreciation of the U.S. dollar in the longer term relative to the Euro and Chinese yen is likely to result in some rebalancing of international currency portfolios, and a reduction in the relative importance of the dollar as a reserve currency.
However, the USDA also identifies the problems that would likely plague the U.S. dollar if economic conditions don’t recover as projected.
“If the U.S. economy were to undergo a longer and deeper recession due to some (combination of economic factors and forces), one possible outcome could be the U.S. dollar (would) no longer be the primary reserve currency in the world. Such an outcome would imply a substantial depreciation in the U.S. dollar, with potential for a decline in U.S. living standards. For agriculture, implications would depend on how weaker economic growth and demand gains in the developing economies would trade off against a sharply lower dollar in influencing agricultural trade.”
World and U.S. crude oil prices are assumed to increase over the next decade as a recovery occurs in global economic activity (Figure 1). From 2010 through 2019, crude oil prices are expected to rise faster than the general inflation rate, with U.S. purchase prices for foreign crude oil imports projected to be around $100 per barrel by 2019. USDA states the following:
“From 2010 through 2019, crude oil prices are expected to rise somewhat faster than the general inflation rate (i.e., greater than 2.8% annually). By the end of the projection period, the refiner acquisition cost for crude oil imports is projected to be around $100 per barrel.”
Source: USDA Long-term Agricultural Outlook, 2010-2019
The USDA makes the following assumptions and statements in regard to the U.S. biofuels policy over the 2010-2019 period.
“The projections assume that the 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit available to blenders of ethanol, a $1.00-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel, and the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol used as fuel are in effect through the projection period.”
“Expansion in the U.S. ethanol industry is projected to continue, although the pace is assumed to slow from the rapid gains of the past several years.”
“Corn is expected to remain the primary feedstock for U.S. ethanol production during the projection period. Slower annual growth for corn based ethanol is projected, however, reflecting only moderate growth in overall gasoline consumption in the United States, limited potential for further market penetration of ethanol into the E10 (10-percent ethanol blend) market, and the small size of the E85 (85-percent ethanol blend) market. Nonetheless, ethanol production accounts for 34-35% of corn use. Corn-based ethanol production exceeds 9% of annual gasoline consumption over the 2015-2019 period.”
“Biodiesel production in the United States is assumed to increase to 1 billion gallons by 2012. Less than half this volume is assumed to be from domestic first-use vegetable oils, partly due to the equalization of the biodiesel tax credit across all feedstocks.”
The USDA projects that the greatest increases in foreign biofuel production over the 2010-2019 period will be in EU, Brazil, Argentina, and Canada. The USDA states that…
“The projections assume that the EU mandate that renewable fuels provide 10 percent of the energy used in the transportation sector by 2020 is only partially met. It is assumed that 60 percent of the mandate (6 percent of transportation fuel use) is achieved from annual agricultural crop feedstocks by 2019.”
“The projections (also) assume that biodiesel accounts for 65 percent of this amount and that ethanol accounts for 35 percent, compared with 72 percent for biodiesel and 28 percent for ethanol estimated for 2009. Growth in biodiesel demand in the EU is a key factor underlying gains in global demand for vegetable oils and oilseeds, while increases in demand for ethanol add to demand for grains.”
U.S. grain prices
USDA projects that World and U.S. prices for corn, oilseeds and other crops will continue to remain at historically high levels over the 2010-2019 period. Grain and oilseed market prices will continue to be supported by strong domestic demand for U.S. corn to produce ethanol as well as heightened demand for oilseed products in the European Union to produce biodiesel. As a result of higher grain and oilseed prices, U.S. farm cash receipts and net farm income levels will remain at higher levels.
Bioenergy & processing demand for U.S. corn during 2010-2019
The USDA projects that the growth and expansion in corn-based U.S. ethanol production will slow, but that the large expansion in recent years keeps the use of corn high. Ethanol-based use of corn in combination with an improved foundation for demand for crops over the next several years and through the remainder of the 2010-2019 period “both provide support longer run increases in global feedgrain consumption and trade, with prices for many crops remaining at historically high levels.”
As stated earlier, “projections for field crops reflect provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Act), which are assumed to continue through the projection period.” In addition, “continuing high levels of domestic corn-based ethanol production and gains in exports keep corn demand high” Corn use for ethanol production is projected to increase from 3.677 to 5.025 billion bushels from the 2009/10 to the 2019/20 marketing years (Figure 2 and Table 1).
Source: USDA Long-term Agricultural Outlook, 2010-2019
Quoting USDA, “Domestic corn use grows throughout the projection period, largely reflecting increases in corn used in the production of ethanol. Global economic growth underlies increases in U.S. corn exports.”
“Most ethanol production in the United States currently uses corn as the feedstock, with close to a third of total corn use expected to go to ethanol production in 2009/10. The tax credit available to blenders of ethanol and the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported fuel ethanol are assumed to remain in effect through the end of the projection period.”
“While expansion in the ethanol industry continues, smaller gains for corn-based ethanol are projected over the next 10 years. This result reflects only moderate growth in overall gasoline consumption in the United States, limited potential for further market penetration of ethanol into the E10 (10-percent ethanol blend) market (the blend wall), and the small size of the E85 (85% ethanol blend) market. (As stated earlier…) In the latter years of the projections, production of ethanol for fuel accounts for 34-35% of total corn use, and corn-based ethanol production exceeds 9% of annual gasoline consumption.”
“Feed and residual use of corn bottoms out in the initial years due to reduced meat production and increased feeding of distillers grains, a co-product of dry mill ethanol production. Feed use rises through the rest of the projections as meat production picks up and growth in the availability of distillers grains slows with the reduced pace of corn-based ethanol expansion.
“Food and industrial use of corn (other than for ethanol production) is projected to rise over the next decade. Use of corn for high fructose corn syrup, glucose, and dextrose increases at less than half the rate of population gain, limited by consumer dietary concerns and other changes in tastes and preferences. Other food uses of corn are also projected to rise more slowly than the increase in population. Starch use of corn responds to industrial demand, rebounding as the U.S. economy recovers and then continuing to rise faster than population through the rest of the projections.”
Bioenergy demand for U.S. soybean oil during 2010-2019
The USDA projects that “soybean oil used for methyl ester for production of biodiesel grows to 2.9 billion pounds (during the 2010-2019 period, representing 13 to 15% of total use of soybean oil and supporting the production of close to 400 million gallons of biodiesel. Although some other first-use vegetable oils are used to produce biodiesel, most of the remaining biodiesel production needed to reach the 1 billion gallon use mandate of the 2007 Energy Act uses animal fats or recycled vegetable oil as the feedstock. The $1-per-gallon blending tax credit for biodiesel is assumed to be in effect over the projection period.” Soybean oil use for methyl ester (biodiesel) production is projected to increase from 1.904 to 2.90 billion bushels from the 2009/10 to the 2019/20 marketing years (See Figure 3 and Table 2)
The USDA also indicates that “strengthening competition from Argentina and Brazil, combined with increasing use for the growing U.S. livestock sector, lead to only small gains in U.S. soybean meal exports from 2010/11-2019/20, reducing the U.S. export share in global soybean meal trade. U.S. soybean oil exports similarly face increasing competition from South America. Argentina, in particular, is a competitive exporter of soybean oil because of its graduated export taxes that favor exports of soybean products over soybeans.”
Source: USDA Long-term Agricultural Outlook, 2010-2019
These long term projections for 2010 through 2019 in U.S. agriculture indicate that growth will continue to occur in both the use of corn for ethanol and in the use of soybean oil for biodiesel. Changes in U.S. energy and/or environmental policy could significantly impact these projections either positively or negatively, as could changing macroeconomic or energy market conditions. These long term projections serve as a benchmark for comparison as more information becomes know with surety by the U.S. grain and bioenergy markets.