Will Brazil Make Ethanol From its Safrinha Corn Crop?
Although corn is a major feedstock for U.S. ethanol production, historically, Brazil has made ethanol from sugar cane. As rural Brazilian corn farmers seek out new markets for their second annual corn crop, or safrinha corn, however, the country’s farmers are considering using their corn for ethanol fuel production.
Brazilian farmers located in vast production centers such as the state of Mato Grosso, follow soybeans with a rotation of corn, but with limited local population and very little regional livestock production, this corn is left stored on the ground under tarps due to lack of storage and demand. And since the current price of corn in Sinop, Mato Grosso is $1.81, it is not economically feasible to ship corn thousands of miles to ports or population centers.
At the country’s current domestic corn consumption rate of 66.7% of production, Conab, Brazil’s agriculture ministry, estimates that by 2022/2023, Brazil will need to export almost 30 million tons of corn per year. By finding additional domestic uses for the country’s corn supply, such as fuel production, the country could not only reduce its gasoline imports, but could reduce the volatility of gasoline prices between sugar cane crops by creating a constant fuel feedstock supply.