Farmers’ Willingness to Produce Alternative Cellulosic Biofuel Feedstocks Under Contract in Kansas Using Stated Choice Experiments

Abstract

Many studies have assessed the technical feasibility of producing bioenergy crops on agricultural lands. However, while it is possible to produce large quantities of agricultural biomass for bioenergy from lignocellulosic feedstocks, very few of these studies have assessed farmers’ willingness to produce these crops under different contracting arrangements. The purpose of this paper is to examine farmers’ willingness to produce alternative cellulosic biofuel feedstocks under different contractual, market, and harvesting arrangements. This is accomplished by using enumerated field surveys in Kansas with stated choice experiments eliciting farmers’ willingness to produce corn stover, sweet sorghum, and switchgrass under different contractual conditions. Using a random utility framework to model the farmers’ decisions, the paper examines the contractual attributes that will most likely increase the likelihood of feedstock enterprise adoption. Results indicate that net returns above the next best alternative use of the land, contract length, cost share, financial incentives, insurance, and custom harvest options are all important contract attributes. Farmers’ willingness to adopt and their willingness-to-pay for alternative contract attributes vary by region and choice of feedstock.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Two focus group sessions were held at the Annual Risk and Profit Conference in Manhattan, KS in the summer of 2010. Participants who were identified as farmers were invited to attend the focus group session, of which 12 participated.

  2. 2.

    The version of software used was SAS 2008. Windows, Version 9.2. SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC.

  3. 3.

    The D-Efficiency (Treatment D-Efficiency) for the corn stover, sweet sorghum and switchgrass choice experiment designs were 93.52 (80.27), 87.12 (70.96), and 91.73 (77.61), respectively.

  4. 4.

    The number of observations for each stated choice experiment is equal to the number of usable surveys times 5, since each respondent answered 5 choice questions for each experiment.

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Acknowledgments

The funding for the primary portion of this project came from the South Central Sun Grant Initiative and Department of Transportation (Award No. DTOS59-07-G-00053), with additional funds from the National Science Foundation, EPSCoR Division, Research Infrastructure Improvement (Award No. 0903806), and a National Science Foundation Grant From Crops to Commuting: Integrating the Social, Technological, and Agricultural Aspects of Renewable and Sustainable Biorefining (I-STAR; Award No. DGE-0903701).

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Correspondence to Jason S. Bergtold.

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Bergtold, J.S., Fewell, J. & Williams, J. Farmers’ Willingness to Produce Alternative Cellulosic Biofuel Feedstocks Under Contract in Kansas Using Stated Choice Experiments. Bioenerg. Res. 7, 876–884 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12155-014-9425-9

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Keywords

  • Adoption
  • Contract
  • Corn stover
  • Sweet sorghum
  • Switchgrass
  • Willingness-to-pay