Agriculture reaps the greatest direct economic benefit from renewable fuels in terms of jobs and wages, a new study released Wednesday by Fuels America and prepared by John Dunham and Associates has found.
The nearly 239,000 agriculture jobs and $9 billion in direct agricultural wages created by the renewables industry, the study finds, contribute to the total of 852,000 jobs created via three areas: direct impact, supplier impact (direct spending by regional supplier firms and employees) and induced impact (re-spending by industry and supplier employees).
Together, the three areas represent $46 billion in wages and $184.5 billion in total national output, the study found.
The study was completed just ahead of an expected decision on final requirements in the Renewable Fuel Standard, an Environmental Protection Agency-managed policy that mandates production volumes for renewable fuels in 2014.
As proposed in November, the policy calls for a 1.4 billion gallon reduction in renewable fuel production requirements, down from 16.5 billion gallons in 2013 to 15.2 in 2014.
Production, manufacturing jobs
Biofuels groups are hopeful the new figures on economic activity will urge EPA to reconsider lowering the required volumes.
Author of the report, John Dunham, says one of the most important impacts seen from renewable fuels production is the opportunity for young people to return to their home farms.
"It gives [farmers] a way to go ahead and pass that farm on to the next generation," he said. "If we can put a policy in place that extends [the farm] one more generation, that's really important to farm families across the country."
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Biofuels advocates also tout job creation in sectors outside ag production, in areas like research and development, manufacturing and retail.
According to Adam Monroe, Americas Regional President of Novozymes' Business Development area, the RFS allowed his company to invest in biofuel R&D staff and construction of new facilities.