A team of Mississippi State University agricultural economists recently received funding from the USDAto study policies impacting biofuel supply chains.

Keith Coble, a W.L. Giles Distinguished Professor at MSU, is the principal investigator for a project to develop a policy evaluation model to assess how state or federal policies might impact the development of the Southeastern biofuels industry. Coble will work with fellow MSU agricultural economists Daniel Petrolia and J. Corey Miller. Their work will inform the development of regional perennial grass-based biofuels production systems by evaluating the effects of risk, incentives and environmental policy on economic sustainability.

All three researchers are affiliated with MSU’s Sustainable Energy Research Center, which researches and develops environmentally and economically sustainable energy technologies that promote the growth of sustainable energy industries in Mississippi and the Southeast.

“Dr. Coble is a national expert in agricultural policy-related research, and I have great confidence in this team of agricultural economists to lead the research and education efforts for this program,” said George Hopper, director of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the $273,120 grant through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. In the bioenergy sector, the institute is funding projects that study how biofuels production programs will contribute positively to rural economies, help increase energy independence, and work well with current agricultural systems.

“The long-term goal for the research projects, which were selected through a highly competitive process, is to implement sustainable regional systems that materially deliver liquid transportation biofuels to help meet the Energy Independence and Security Act goal of 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022,” according to a USDA press release.

Coble has been a professor in MSU’s Agricultural Economics Department since 1997. Within his profession, Coble is currently serving on the board of directors of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. He also serves on the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics’ Blue Ribbon Panel of Experts, who provide guidance about national and international matters of significance to policy-makers.