Arkansas producers urge farmer comments to EPA

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 15, 2009
Posted July 28, 2009

Hornbeck Agricultural has gotten responses from farmers in five states and broad news coverage for a large ad that appeared in the Delta Farm Press urging farmers to tell the U.S. EPA what they think of provisions in the proposed rule for the revised renewable fuels standard.

The ad read as a letter to soybean farmers. "The question is simple: Will you and other farmers have greater opportunity to raise soybeans for the production of biodiesel-or will proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations cripple that industry and limit your choices?" The letter is urging farmers to speak out in opposition to EPA regulations on indirect land use changes.

"It seems unanimous in the soybean industry that the EPA proposal is unworkable," Troy Hornbeck said. "The EPA has gone beyond its assignment, and its attempt to influence land-use practices in other countries is just punishing soybean farmers and U.S. biodiesel producers."

Hornbeck is also concerned about the EPA proposal to require soy biodiesel producers to certify that their soybeans came from land that was in production prior to 2007. "Try to imagine the nightmare and cost of a system that starts when the seeds are planted and tracks every bushel of soybeans -- just in case some of those beans are used for biodiesel," he said. "Farmers and everyone else would drown in the paperwork. It's unworkable and unnecessary."

Hornbeck quoted a soybean farmer's remarks at a congressional hearing in explanation: "Feedstock certification would be onerous and unworkable" because the EPA doesn't provide a clear method to implement feedstock certification and "they must recognize the challenge it would present." Most soybean processors buy from local elevators who receive and co-mingle soybeans from multiple farmers. The local elevator does not know who delivered what soybeans once they go into storage.

Response to the ad is encouraging said Troy Hornbeck, "Our ad is just part of the effort. The media coverage and word-of-mouth among farmers also are powerful and important." Hornbeck Agricultural is collecting responses from farmers who email comments to, or they can comment through the National Biodiesel Board's Action Center on the NBB Web site or directly to the EPA.

"The important thing is that soybean farmers must act quickly to stop EPA from harming their business," Horbeck said. The comment period closes Sept. 25.

Three brothers make up Hornbeck Agricultural based at DeWitt, Ark. Troy, Jon and Jeff operate a group of family businesses that include farming, soybean breeding and seed companies and most recently, a soybean crusher and 10 MMgy biodiesel plant, Arkansas SoyEnergy Group LLC.
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