Checkoff proves soy biodiesel a critical energy source

A proposed federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2) uses assumptions and methodologies that excludes vegetable oil (including soybean oil), or about 70 percent of all available domestic raw material for biodiesel. Some of the assumptions regarding biodiesel and Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) used have been shown to be false. Fortunately, the biodiesel industry and the soybean checkoff have collaborated on scientific research that is likely to help clarify some of the misinformation about biodiesel and ILUC.

The National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) Sustainability Analysis and Awareness project, which is partially funded by the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff, helps build on the limited body of data related to the science of attempting to measure indirect emissions.

“It is necessary to use science-based research to help ensure people are well-informed and educated regarding soy biodiesel,” says Chuck Myers, USB Chairman and a soybean farmer from Lyons, Neb. “All Americans can benefit from soy biodiesel, not just soybean farmers. Soy biodiesel remains a critical part of our renewable energy solution this country badly needs.”

Since the soybean checkoff helped establish the biodiesel industry in the 90s, sales of the fuel have grown from two million gallons in the year 2000 to over 700 million in 2008.

With the checkoff funding, NBB has put together a team of land use experts consisting of economists, leaders in the field of life cycle analysis, commodity experts and environmental engineers to analyze the Environmental Protection Agency’s initial estimation of biodiesel Green House Gases (GHG) due to ILUC used in the RFS-2.

A few inaccuracies that have already been brought to the forefront include that the soybeans were not given a significant GHG credit for fixing nitrogen in soil and biodiesel production did not receive a GHG credit for the production of glycerin as a valuable co-product. 

NBB also demonstrates that the value of 80 percent soy protein meal as a significant portion of the market value for the entire crop remained unaccounted for as well as the steep increases in soybean yield that can be expected in coming years. The fact that that soy exports will increase even with biodiesel production also did not come into play with the development of RFS-2.

“This work demonstrates how checkoff-funded research could allow biodiesel to continue to grow as part of America’s energy solution,” says Myers.

Soy biodiesel supporters who want to know more about how the RFS-2 may impact the industry can visit NBB’s Web site,

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

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