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Corn is not the future of U.S. ethanol: DOE

Timothy Gardner, Reuters
New technology to make ethanol from crops such as grasses and trees instead of corn could ease price spikes of the grain within a decade, a U.S. Energy Department official said on Wednesday.

“I’m not going to predict what the price of corn is going to do, but I will tell you the future of biofuels is not based on corn,” U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said in an interview.

…Sell said the future of biofuels is cellulosic ethanol, made from microbes that break down woody bits of non-food crops into sugars that can be fermented into fuel.
(28 March 2007)

Brazil’s da Silva: Our Biofuels Partnership

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Washington Post
Tomorrow I will visit with President Bush at Camp David to follow up on conversations we had a few weeks ago in Sao Paulo. We have taken an important first step toward committing our countries to developing clean and renewable energy sources that will ensure the prosperity of our peoples while protecting the environment.

We are launching a partnership to enhance the role of ethanol fuel in our countries’ energy mixes while moving to make biodiesel fuel more widely available. Simultaneously, we are creating opportunities to expand these programs onto the global stage.

This initiative builds on what Brazil has achieved in biofuels. Thirty years of research and innovation have made my country self-sufficient in oil by replacing 40 percent of our gasoline consumption with ethanol.

…However, ethanol and biodiesel are more than an answer to our dangerous “addiction” to fossil fuels. We aim to set in motion a reassessment of the global strategy to protect our environment. As well as being renewable, biofuels in Brazil are clean and highly competitive

The writer is president of Brazil.
(30 March 2007)

UK slams US biofuel subsidies

Britain was looking for a way to tackle imports of biofuels from the US, which it believes will undermine the commercial case for European production, UK transport minister Stephen Ladyman said.

“People who are being subsidised to produce renewable fuels in the US are now planning to export that fuel to Europe, where they hope to get a second subsidy when it is sold in Europe,” Ladyman told a conference organised by the Environmental Industries Commission, a biofuels industry lobby group.

“That is undermining the commercial case for investment in Europe. It is one of the things that we have got to try and sort out, ” Ladyman said.

The US bioethanol industry has grown rapidly, boosted by strong government support motivated by a desire for energy security.

European biodiesel makers have made the same complaint to Brussels: that US biodiesel sales in the EU are rising with the help of unfair subsidies.
(30 March 2007)

Huge jump in corn planting expected

Philip Brasher, Des Moines Register
Not since 1981, when President Reagan ended the Soviet grain embargo, have Iowa farmers planted close to the record 14.4 million acres of corn they seeded that year.

But that record could fall this year. The best indication will come when the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases on Friday its widely anticipated survey of farmers’ 2007 planting intentions.

Analysts are expecting the report to project historic increases in corn acreage both in Iowa and nationally because of soaring grain prices. Everyone from livestock farms to ethanol producers to food processors also will be watching the report because of the importance of farmers’ plans to the price of commodities.
(29 March 2007)
Farmers may plant 10 million more acres (Farm News)
Farmers to Plant Most Amount of Corn Since ’44 (NY Times)

Ethanol Fuels Jumps in Nebraska Agricultural Land Values

Bruce Johnson and Sandi Alswager Karstens, University of Nebraska
Nebraska farm real estate market values and cash rent rates show sizable increases across the state with the average per-acre value of agricultural land up 14 percent statewide, according to the preliminary results of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s annual Farm Real Estate Market Development Survey.

Statewide, Nebraska farmland’s average value for the year ending Feb. 1 was $1,155 per acre, compared to $1,013 per acre at this time last year, said Bruce Johnson, the UNL agricultural economist who conducts this annual survey.

“These preliminary findings show this was the largest all-land value increase in the past 19 years,” Johnson said. “Moreover, the percentage increase follows on three previous years of solid advances, which puts the state’s current all-land average value more than 50 percent higher than the 2003 level.”

Among other factors, sharply higher cash corn and soybean prices fueled by ethanol expansion toward the end of 2006 clearly boosted crop income levels and sparked enthusiasm in local land markets across much of the state, Johnson said.

“The demand from rapidly-growing ethanol production has triggered higher the commodity market advances, and, in turn, worked into the agricultural land market dynamic – particularly in the major corn producing areas of the state,” the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources economist said.
(22 March 2007)