Published July 1, 2015 by Aaron Smith.
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US legislation passed in 2007 (RFS2) increased by about 1.3 billion bushels the net amount of corn required to be processed annually into ethanol for motor-fuel use. Using modern time-series methods, we estimate that corn prices were about 30 percent higher between 2006 and 2014 than they would have been but for RFS2 and if pre-2006 trends had continued. We estimate a permanent corn demand increase of 1.3 billion bushels increased the long-run price by 31% (90% confidence interval is [5%,95%]). Our identification strategy is unique in the literature because it enables estimation of the effects of transitory shocks, such as weather, separately from the effects of persistent shocks, such as the ethanol mandate.