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Progress or Devastation? The Effects of Ethanol Plant Location on Local Land Use
Miscellaneous Publications No. 1, July 2008
by Alan Turnquist, T. Randall Fortenbery and Jeremy Foltz

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Growth in biofuels production and corn ethanol in particular has received considerable attention in both the popular press and academic literature. Despite the attention, however, there appears little consensus relative to the balance of positive and negative impacts resulting from continued expansion of the domestic biofuels industry. The intent of this research to provide a more complete understanding of the local impacts experienced by communities hosting ethanol plants, and replace some of the conjecture in the current debate with measured results. By relying on market data, we attempt to measure actual experience rather than project what is likely to happen based on various assumptions of market performance. A preliminary examination of the market data indicates that Wisconsin ethanol facilities have not had dramatic effects - positive or negative - on residential land values or agricultural land conversion in their proximity. Agricultural land conversion also appears to be unaffected by proximity to ethanol production facilities.

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