Many people like rural culture, including fields of corn or wheat, and are willing to pay farmers as stewards of the landssape.
And as alluded to in my previous post, local farm production provides a buffer when there are supply disruptions. Self sufficiency in food was the argument for EU farm subsidies when the system was first instituted. It's less of a concern today for EU countries, as the presumption is that it is much less likely today that the continent could be blockaded. In Arab countries it's still rather a significant driver.
And as Saudi Arabia is afraid of a wheat delivery stop, so is the West of an oil delivery stop, and in comparison with other liquid fuel supply options, first generation biofuels look pretty good
One of the biggest advantages are low capital costs. Most of the cost is in the feedstock and that's grown on an annual basis.
So, if there's a poor harvest, we can switch from biofuels to food for a year without having really expensive fuel conversion plants wastefully lying idle.
Investments in CTL or oilsands or domestic high cost drilling are multi year and massive, and the majority of the costs. This is a big problem when the circumstances change and make the project uneconomic. High capital costs create lock-in.
And so do multi-annual crops. Miscanthus and willow don't yield much for years, and clearing them again to allow standard annual crops to be grown is a big expense, which is why farmers want multi-year fixed price contracts.
The funny thing is that food vs fuel is said to favour 2nd generation crops, when in fact the opposite is the case.
Annual crops are a big boon to food security, in a bad patch of years for potatoes, it's easy to swith corn ethanol land to potatoes. Land where willow or miscanthus are grown is much harder to rapidly switch back to food.
And if it's done we've also got hugely expensive BTL facilities wastefully lying idle.