The role of bio fuels in the exploding feed prices is much smaller than often has been said lately, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported Tuesday.
In a press conference, where also Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer was present, the report was explained in
Talking about the effect of the increase of ethanol production on
the corn prices, the USDA’s chief economist Joe Glauber said: ” I think there’s
no question in looking at the overall effect on corn prices, I think it’s fair
to say the increase in biofuel production has had some effect, but again, what
I’d consider a relatively small effect and one that in looking at it it’s
important to take into account a lot of other things that are going on outside
of the biofuel sector.”
Glauber mentioned other
causes to be more important for the global increase in feed prices, emphasising
global economic growth.
“In fact if you were to look at countries like
India and China where the GDP there has been increasing on the order to 5 to 10%
annually, that has expanded demand, particularly demand for meat products, which
has contributed to both a growth in livestock exports in the case of this
country and also demand for protein meals, soybean meal, other sorts of things.
And that has continued and is projected to continue.”
Glauber also mentioned the weather situation. “In particular,
droughts that have affected Oceania; Australia is suffering now or is just
beginning to come out of a drought that really affected the last two crops quite
adversely. We also had problems in the Canadian crop last year, problems in the
Ukraine, problems in the European Union. All contributed to a very low wheat
He also identified strong export restrictions on rice and wheat
markets, which were put in place by many countries, “to the extent that a lot
less wheat made it on to the world market than we had originally
He continued, “The other major
factor on food prices of course has been the energy costs, and the impact that
they’ve had on food marketing and transportation costs.
“Lastly, no question, biofuels also has been a very, very
important part of this picture. As I mentioned, in the US we’ve seen increases
over the last two or three years, and as we increase capacity and add more
capacity to the ethanol processing manufacturing sector, that we’re going to see
– again we’re calling for about a 33% percent increase in corn use in ethanol
For the study to
the influence of ethanol production on feed prices, the USDA used data from Iowa
State University and University of Missouri.
He closed off, by saying that
“it’s also important to realise that when these corn prices pass through to
retail prices that again is a much smaller effect.” Glauber mentioned that
estimates show that total global increase in corn-based ethanol production
accounts for only about 3% of the recent increase in global food
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