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COVID-19 could cost ethanol industry $10 billion

From March through June 2020, nearly 500 million fewer bushels of corn were used in ethanol production.

The COVID-19 crisis has led to more than $3.4 billion in lost revenues for the U.S. ethanol industry, according to an economic analysis released by the Renewable Fuels Association. Based on the latest projections from the Energy Information Administration and the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute, the RFA study also found that pandemic-related damages in 2020 and 2021 could reach nearly $9 billion.

The new study by RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman uses empirical data to assess the actual impact of COVID-19 on the ethanol industry to date. For the period running from March through June 2020, the study found:

  • The cumulative decline in ethanol production and consumption exceeded 1.3 billion gallons.
  • Nearly 500 million fewer bushels of corn were used in ethanol production during the period.
  • Industry revenues from ethanol and co-products sales were reduced by over $3.4 billion due to the combination of reduced output and lower prices.

Based on EIA and FAPRI projections and assuming current market conditions do not deteriorate, total pandemic-related revenue losses for the industry could approach $7 billion in 2020 and $1.8 billion in 2021. However, if additional travel and business restrictions are adopted by states, the losses would be larger and may even surpass the $10 billion estimate from RFA’s initial forward-looking analysis released in April.

“At one point in late April, more than half of the ethanol industry’s production capacity was shut down,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The idling of dozens of ethanol plants reverberated throughout rural America and sent ripple impacts across the farm economy. We have seen conditions improve since the low point in April, but ethanol production and consumption remain well below pre-COVID-19 levels.”

Cooper said the report provides a clearer picture of the damage done to date, and the challenges the industry will continue to face well into 2021. “The analysis again underscores the need for Congress to act expeditiously to deliver emergency relief to the renewable fuels industry,” he said. “As members of the Senate begin to craft their next COVID-19 stimulus package, we implore them to ensure the renewable fuels industry is not left behind again.”

Source: Renewable Fuels Association, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 
TAGS: ethanol
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