Zhang, Yuquan (2011-12). Three Essays on U.S. Agriculture under Climate Change: Active Engagement in Mitigation and Adaptation. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This dissertation investigates: (1) the implications of including high-yielding energy sorghum under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS2) program; (2) the effects of RFS2 with and without projected climate change scenarios on U.S. agriculture; (3) the spatial distribution of cattle breeders in Texas to quantify how climate factors influence cattle breed selection.

    In the RFS2 energy sorghum work, the ability of the agriculture sector to meet the fuel requirements of RFS2 is examined with and without energy sorghum being a possibility using an agricultural sector model. The results show that energy sorghum would be a valuable contributor that would be used as a feedstock producing over 13 billion gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol. Without the presence of energy sorghum it is found that switchgrass serves as the major cellulosic ethanol feedstock. Findings also indicate that the presence of high-yielding energy sorghum does relax commodity prices and export reductions except for grain sorghum as energy sorghum competes with grain sorghum production. In addition, the results show that the introduction of energy sorghum has minimal effects on GHG mitigation potential in the agricultural sector.

    In the RFS2 and climate change research, the analysis shows that climate change eases the burden of meeting the RFS2 mandates increasing consumer welfare while decreasing producer welfare. The results also show that climate change encourages a more diversified use of biofuel feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production, in particular crop residues.

    In the cattle breed research, summer heat stress is found to be a significant factor for breed selection: positive for Bos indicus and negative for Bos taurus and composite breeds. The estimation results also indicate a price-driven trade-off between Bos taurus and Bos indicus breeds.

publication date

  • December 2011