Agricultural Economics Department



Richard K. Perrin

Date of this Version



Current U.S. energy policy encourages additional ethanol production through a combination of subsidies and mandates. Grain ethanol production converts a potential food into fuel. Concerns have been expressed that this drives up the price of food, and could contributed to world hunger problems. Other objections to grain ethanol have been raised: it might not reduce greenhouse gases much if at all; intensified cropping could deteriorate environmental resources, and it might increase smog in cities. Why, then, do proponents favor increased grain ethanol production? It is possible that it will educe greenhouse gas emissions; it can reduce petroleum imports, it can promote rural development; and it has the potential to reduce federal farm program expenditures. This paper offers some perspective on these various issues.