ticipants who valued the ability to convene a much-needed, necessary and frank discussion about the kinds of tradeoffs that need to be assessed, including the impacts for winners and losers in the farming and processing communities. As the advanced biofuel industry develops, individuals—farmers who grow ethanol feedstocks and employees of refineries and processing facilities—are often perceived as winners. However, often the jobs created by ethanol production plants are not significant (e.g., fewer than 20 jobs for a smaller plant). Panelists suggested that a few new jobs may not significantly impact overall employment numbers in the Upper Midwest. Participants noted, however, that communities often believe that any new jobs are better than none.
Panelists and participants were also asked to discuss how best to minimize adverse social impacts as the industry transitions to a second generation of biofuel production. Here, many participants emphasized the need for a critical analysis of the different costs and benefits (including the path taken) in the development of the U.S. corn-based ethanol industry. Identifying the best policies and management practices will be critical to the successful development of the next-generation biofuel economy.
Many participants also emphasized the need for understanding the social and political issues of expanding a next-generation biofuel industry. How the costs and benefits will be distributed within communities was cited as an area that needs further research and attention—especially more focused data on how communities will benefit or suffer from future losses.