Farmers, ranchers and forestland owners would stand to gain significant and widespread economic benefits if a properly constructed Renewable Electricity Standard is implemented on top of the Renewable Fuels Standard set by federal energy legislation in 2007.

The findings come in a University of Tennessee Bio-based Energy Analysis Group study commissioned by 25x’25 and released at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention in Kansas City, Mo.

The authors of the study, Burton C. English, Daniel G. De La Torre Ugarte, Chad Hellwinckel, Kimberly L. Jensen and Christopher D. Clark, are professors and Jamey Menard is a research associate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee. Co-author Tristram O. West is an ecosystem scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Md.

The study, “Implications of Energy and Carbon Policies for Agriculture and Forestry Sectors,” found that a Renewable Electricity Standard could generate $14 billion in accumulated additional revenues for agriculture and forestry, increasing the demand for and production of dedicated energy crops for biomass feedstocks. And while that would cause shifts to move intensely managed pasture land, University of Tennessee researchers predict that forest residues, thinnings and tree harvest will play a significant role in meeting those feedstock demands. There would be no significant changes to commodity cropland use, or crop and livestock prices. Since both prices and production increase over time for beef, pork and poultry, gross returns will also increase.

The study goes on to show that a Renewable Electricity Standard could create an additional $215 billion of additional economic activity, more than 700,000 jobs and $84 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product.