Following the Environmental Protection Agency's Friday announcement of an increase in the biodiesel volume requirement under the Renewable Fuels Standard 2, both USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman welcomed the move.
The volume increase mandates that biodiesel production under the RFS2 be increased from nearly 1.1 billion gallons in 2012 to 1.28 billion gallons in 2013.
ASA President Steve Wellman said the increase will benefit soybean farmers by increasing market opportunities. He added that livestock farmers won't be left out, either, as processing provides valuable by-products that can be used for animal feed.
"Soybean-based biodiesel actually has a positive impact on U.S. soybean meal supplies," he said. "Processing biodiesel from soybeans uses only the oil portion of the soybean, which is about 18-20% of the soybean, leaving the remaining 80-82% of the soybean available as protein to nourish both livestock and humans. By increasing the market for soybean oil in the United States and domestic oilseed processing, we increase the availability of protein-rich meal for human and livestock consumption. The increased meal supply results in a more cost-effective food and feed source."
Wellman added that biodiesel can be made from a variety of other sources, which he says enables biodiesel producers to change to using alternate feedstocks if needed.
USDA Secretary Vilsack supported the EPA decision as well. While touring AGP Biodiesel plant in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, last week, Vilsack said biodiesel played a role in displacing petroleum used in the manufacturing of household products and fueling cars and trucks.
"Over the past three years, we have doubled generation from renewable energy," Vilsack said. "[The volume increase] will ensure that we are continuing to utilize biodiesel to help meet our energy needs, create jobs and strengthen the rural economy," Vilsack said.
Iowa, which is the nation's leading biodiesel producing state, will benefit from the EPA increase, said Randy Olson, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. He said the increased production will support jobs at Iowa's 13 biodiesel plants. He also addressed the fuel's flexibility.
"Our state's producers stand ready to meet this reasonable, attainable increase in biodiesel production," Olson said." One of biodiesel's greatest strengths is its diversity, which makes our industry flexible in managing challenges such as the drought. I'm proud that Iowa is leading the charge on domestic energy production. "
Olson celebrated the announcement by thanking the Iowa Congressmembers that supported the increase: Sen. Charles Grassley, Sen. Tom Harkin, Rep. Leonard Boswell, Rep. Tom Latham, Rep. Bruce Braley, Rep. Dave Loebsack, and Rep. Steve King.