USGC: Ethanol is fastest growing US agricultural export

By U.S. Grains Council | September 09, 2019

An analysis by the U.S. Grains Council showed that non-beverage ethanol has been the fastest growing U.S. agricultural export over the past five years, an achievement supported by Council and ethanol industry programming to promote import-facilitating policy development around the world.

In 2018, U.S. ethanol exports totaled more than 6.1 billion liters (1.62 billion gallons or 609 million bushels in corn equivalent), valued at $2.7 billion. Using trade data on 47 different agricultural and ag-related product groupings tracked by the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service via its Global Agricultural Trade System, analysis reveals the volume of ethanol exports grew by 18 percent per year over the past five years.

Concurrently, overall exports of ethanol from the 2016/2017 marketing year to the 2017/2018 marketing year were up 18 percent by volume and 14 percent by value. In total, exports increased by more than $330 million year-over-year, a significant return on the increased investment from both USDA and U.S. industry into ethanol market development programming. This increase in exports year-over-year supported 2,700 jobs in the U.S. farming sector for a total of 22,740 jobs that are supported by U.S. ethanol exports using USDA’s Economic Research Service agricultural trade data multipliers.

USDA’s Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program—in conjunction with U.S. industry funds—have contributed significantly to the increase in exports globally as the Council and U.S. industry partners work to help customers develop policies that support long term market access; create specifications to harmonize ethanol’s role in the fuel supply; and maintain U.S. market access in the face of trade policy issues including technical, tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.

Two major events—the Ethanol Summit of the Americas and Ethanol Summit of the Asia Pacific—were milestones in terms of engaging countries that had marketable increases in exports during this time. The Summits aligned ministry and industry officials across the respective regions about the benefits of using ethanol, the policies of neighboring countries and the production and handling processes. They also supported business-to-business engagement with U.S. and foreign industries.

U.S. corn producers, ethanol producers and related industries are the primary beneficiary of this increase in exports of ethanol, in addition to the local, rural economies they help support in the U.S. Midwest. U.S. stakeholders continue to benefit from the expanding support from FAS overseas posts as well as high-level support in the embassies, USDA and other U.S. government departments in Washington.

Over the past two years, the Council invested approximately $6 million of FMD and MAP funds to generate an expansion of ethanol exports of $330 million. This is a return of investment of (ROI) of $55 per $1 of MAP or FMD invested.