Biofuels and Food
T. C. Dorr. USDA, Washington, DC. Cereal Foods World 53(2):76-77.
The explosive development of renewable energy is a worldwide story and has broad implications for national security, energy security, and the environment. It also has differential effects for many industries, regions, and sectors of the economy. From the perspective of agriculture and rural development, renewable energy is a historic opportunity for wealth creation in rural communities, both in the United States and around the world. It is important that the discussion of biofuels and food be viewed in this broad context. While interest in renewable energy is growing around the world, national approaches have varied widely. In the United States, the renewables revolution is being driven by at least four factors: 1) geopolitical concern over import dependency, 2) rising environmental concerns, 3) rising global prices for oil and natural gas, and 4) aggressive policy leadership from President Bush and Congress. USDA Rural Development has emerged as a leading funding agency for the commercialization of emerging renewable energy technologies. For rural America, this is an enormous opportunity for wealth creation. Net farm income—already at a record high—is projected to rise significantly, while direct government payments are expected to decline. Grain prices are expected to experience a short, near-term spike, then decline as new production comes online.