Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural Economics

First Advisor

Wallace E. Tyner

Committee Chair

Wallace E. Tyner

Committee Member 1

Bernard Tao

Committee Member 2

Otto Doering

Committee Member 3

Farzad Taheripour


Several studies have examined the land use and economic consequences of national and multi-national biofuel policies. They explored the impacts of biofuels mandates mainly based on the quantitative biofuel targets. However, the recently updated renewable policies of the United States and the European Union, which are the US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and EU Directive 2009/28 of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) both place restrictions on land that can be used to produce biofuel, and these restrictions are generally known as sustainability criteria. This research aims to determine to what extent sustainability criteria are actually binding; that is, would they in reality limit the availability of land for meeting the US and EU biofuel targets.

A modified version of the GTAP global computational general equilibrium is used to analyze the impacts of biofuel targets for the US and the EU. ArcGIS was used to develop data bases of the land that needed to be excluded from biofuel production to meet US and EU sustainability criteria. We implemented five different cases: 1) US biofuel RFS policy; 2) EU biofuel targets; 3) a combination of US and EU targets; 4) US and EU biofuel targets plus fixing food consumption in developing countries; and 5) US and EU biofuel targets plus holding food consumption constant globally. The last two cases are of interest because some policy makers have interest in understanding the land use changes induced by biofuels when food consumption is not allowed to fall. The results clearly demonstrate that the biofuel targets can be met in all five cases from

sustainable land. In other words, the sustainability criteria are not binding in achieving the given biofuel targets. Nonetheless, the indirect land use change caused by biofuel expansion leads to a rise of land values and an increase in production cost and prices for agricultural commodities.