USDA’s 2002 Ethanol Cost-of-Production Survey

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2005-07-01
Authors
Shapouri, Hosein
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Gallagher, Paul
Associate Professor Emeritus
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Economics

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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1898–present

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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In 2003, the U.S. Department of Agriculture surveyed 21 dry-mill ethanol plants to estimate their 2002 production costs, including both variable (feedstock and plant operation) and capital expenses. These plants produced about 550 million gallons of ethanol in 2002. Net feedstock costs for the surveyed plants ranged from 39 to 68 cents per gallon in 2002. For cash operating expenses, the average energy expenditure was 17.29 cents per gallon. Labor costs ranged from 3 to 11 cents per gallon, maintenance costs from 1 to 7 cents, and administrative costs from 1 to 18 cents. For capital expenditures, new plant construction costs from $1.05 to $3.00 per gallon of ethanol. Average investment to expand existing ethanol production capacity was 50 cents per gallon; hence, expansion tends to cost less than new capacity. Comparison with a 1998 survey of ethanol producers showed that total operating costs in 2002 had changed very little from 1998. It also showed that the average cost of building new plants had dropped, possibly due to designs that emphasize economies of scale.

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