Regional soybean growers make trip to National Biodiesel ConferenceWORTHINGTON — Two area men were among a group of 20 farmers to take part in a Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council-sponsored See For Yourself (SFY) mission trip last week to Phoenix, Ariz.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Two area men were among a group of 20 farmers to take part in a Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council-sponsored See For Yourself (SFY) mission trip last week to Phoenix, Ariz. The three-day trip included attendance at the National Biodiesel Conference, as well as tours of the city fleets in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., which run on a 20 percent blend of biodiesel.
Gene Stoel of Lake Wilson and Chris Hill of Brewster saw first-hand how the funds they contribute to the na-tionwide soybean check-off are being used to help fur-ther advance the industry through research and pro-motion of soybean and soy-based products.
In Phoenix Feb. 7-9, the SFY group attended daily sessions at the National Biodiesel Conference where they learned about policy issues — everything from taxes on renewable fuels to Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), blender credits and the cost savings associated with a bio-blended fuel.
“There was a lot of talk about how renewable fuel is supposed to be passed on to the consumer in cheaper fuel, but we’re seeing that it’s the oil companies that are seeing the greatest benefit,” said Stoel. “There are initial talks being done to see what the legislature can do to fix some of the loopholes in that program.
“It seems like whenever we have a law passed, people can find a loophole to make it work to their advantage,” he added.
Stoel said one of his rea-sons for taking part in the SFY mission trip to the National Biodiesel Confer-ence was to learn more about biodiesel distribution.
“To me, it was pretty eye-opening just to see how many fuels are considered biodiesel,” he added.
Designated as an advanced biofuel, biodiesel is pro-moted as a cleaner-burning fuel that is better for the environment. While on the SFY trip, Hill and Stoel visited city fleets in both Phoenix and Scottsdale, where a 20 percent biodiesel blend is used in everything from garbage trucks to maintenance vehicles.
“If they can run it on bio-diesel, they’ll run it on that,” said Stoel. “They like bio-diesel.”
By comparison, Minneso-tans use a 5 percent biodiesel blend, with studies in some communities utilizing a 20 percent blend.
What was perhaps most surprising to Stoel was the array of different feedstocks used to manufacture bio-diesel.
“A lot of people are using recycled cooking oil, canola oil and even oil from algae,” he said. “There’s even a couple of companies that are taking grease off sewage waste ponds and recycling that.”
Still, more than half of all biodiesel produced in the United States comes from processed soybean oil.
“Every time a person fills up their pickup truck (with biodiesel), they’re putting in oil from a bushel’s worth of beans,” said Hill. “It adds up after a little while.”
Without the ability to use soybean oil as a fuel compo-nent, Hill said the farmers wouldn’t be getting as good a price when they market their soybean crop.
“Soybeans are a big player for biodiesel,” he said. “As a producer, if we were to put the soybean oil back into other uses, the price of beans would just fall out of bed — a $2 drop per bushel of beans. That’s a significant amount.”
Hill said that while the bio-diesel industry is currently experiencing a downturn, the future is “looking very nice.”
“I was hoping to see (on this trip) that biodiesel is very much alive,” he said. “We’ve slowed down a little bit, but I think the future looks very bright for the biodiesel industry.”