The National Corn Growers Association has always believed that ethanol production is good for American agriculture and the economy at large, and now on the global scale we are seeing support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which this week published a new analysis that supports the claim that biofuels could help improve food security in rural economies.
"Farmers know that ethanol has a measurable and positive impact on communities, which is greatly needed in today's economy," says NCGA Ethanol Chair Keith Alverson. "However, it is nice to see more of the world starting to realize what we've been saying and showing for quite some time."
According to the FAO, the cultivation of crops such as corn for fuel can bring desperately needed investment in agricultural and transportation infrastructure to rural areas throughout the world. If the development is managed sustainably, this investment could provide opportunities to access export markets, raise incomes, alleviate poverty and increase food security.
Heiner Thofern, who heads FAO's Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) project, commented, "FAO has been saying for years that under-investment in agriculture is a problem that seriously handicaps food production in the developing world, and that this, coupled with rural poverty, is a key driver of world hunger," he says.
"For far too long, ethanol critics have been professing economic and environmental doom and destruction, citing inaccurate data and adhering to faulty analyses of the situation," NCGA's Alverson says. "The truth of the matter is that farmers have responded to increased demand with increasing yield faster than the demand for ethanol, leaving more corn for all uses."
The numbers seem to support Alverson's statement. Since 1980, U.S. corn production has nearly doubled from 6.6 billion to 12.5 billion bushels. Distillers’ grains and other ethanol coproducts will replace over 1.2 billion bushels of corn in livestock rations this year. The U.S. the ethanol industry supports nearly 400,000 jobs across all sectors of the economy. In 2010, this increase in economic activity and new jobs has supported $53.6 billion of the nation's GDP and put an additional $36 billion in the hands of American consumers. If you consider the amount of imported oil that ethanol displaced and thereby reduced the U.S. trade deficit last year, you can add another $34 billion to ethanol's value to the economy. Annual operations in the ethanol industry and spending on new construction generated approximately $8.6 billion in tax revenue for the federal government and an additional $4.8 billion in state and local taxes.