The RFS Reset and Corn Ethanol Production

This report examines how much additional corn and ethanol could be produced if the historic trends for corn production and ethanol processing continue through 2022. The analysis allows the food and other non-ethanol portions of the corn crop to continue to grow in a manner that would not increase concerns about the availability of corn for the world’s food supply.

Stillwater examined historic trends for U.S. farm acres planted in corn and harvested plus the volume of corn produced. While there is variability in the data, over the past 12 years, corn production has increased at an average rate of 2.3 bushels per acre per year. That rate closely aligns with the rate of growth that has been maintained over the previous seven decades, and there continue to be new technologies introduced enabling this rate of growth to continue. Figure ES-1 demonstrates this historic growth in corn yields per acre.

Ethanol production from corn also has maintained a steady rate of increase over the last three to four decades (the period for which data are available), and new developments in ethanol production technology should allow ethanol production efficiency to continue its rate of increase of 0.01gallons of ethanol produced per bushel of corn per year into the future.