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Icon for: Jason Fewell

JASON FEWELL

Kansas State University

Abstract

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Farmers’ Willingness to Grow Cellulosic Bioenergy Crops: A Stated Choice Approach

Agriculture’s role as a source of feedstocks in a potential lignocellulosic-based biofuel industry is a critical economic issue. Several studies have assessed the technical feasibility of producing bioenergy crops on agricultural lands. However, few studies have assessed farmers’ willingness to produce or supply bioenergy crops or crop residues. Biomass markets for bioenergy crops do not exist, and developing these markets may take several years. Therefore, an important, yet unaddressed question is under what contractual or pricing arrangements farmers will grow biomass for bioenergy in these nascent markets.

The purpose of this project is to examine farmers’ willingness to produce corn stover, sweet sorghum, and switchgrass as bioenergy crops under alternative contractual, pricing, and harvesting arrangements

A stated choice survey was administered in three areas of Kansas by Kansas State University and the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service from November 2010 to January 2011 to assess farmers’ willingness to produce cellulosic biomass under different contractual arrangements. The stated choice experiment asked farmers to rank their preferred contractual arrangement from two contract options and one “do not adopt” option.

This project estimated net returns as a percentage return above what farmers get from traditional crop production without specifying an exact monetary value for the biomass. The method will can help determine a market price for bioenergy crops based on current market and production costs instead of attempting to set a specific price. Survey results will facilitate contract designs between biorefineries and farmers while informing policymakers about farmers’ willingness to supply biomass.