ISA Soy 2020 meeting highlights Ill. biodiesel industry growth

By The Illinois Soybean Association | November 21, 2011

Biodiesel is enjoying a rebound in 2011 after two down years, and the industry can now take "all the soybean oil that Illinois soybean farmers can provide." That bullish assessment of the industry came from National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe, speaking to a group of soybean industry leaders Thursday in Bloomington, Ill. Speaking at the Illinois Soybean Association Soy 2020 meeting Jobe said that U.S. biodiesel production has set new monthly records every month since last April, thanks in part to extension of the biodiesel tax incentive last December and the fuel's recent designation by EPA as an advanced biofuel.

Jobe also credited the Illinois sales tax exemption for biodiesel as a significant factor in growth of the industry. "It has been a great incentive for biodiesel investment in Illinois," he said. "It makes sense to put terminals where there is ample soybean production, processing and transportation." He said Illinois is a leader in helping the national biodiesel industry in pursuing a goal of having five percent of the nation's diesel fuel made from renewable oils, such as soybean oil, by 2015.

"Biodiesel is America's only commercialized advanced biofuel, a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement that is creating green jobs, reducing U.S. dependence on foreign petroleum and improving the environment," Jobe said. Biodiesel is now produced in nearly every state in the country and will support more than 31,000 U.S. jobs in 2011, while replacing nearly 1 billion gallons of petroleum diesel.

Information presented at the IL Soy 2020 forum, which is funded by the Illinois soybean checkoff, highlighted several reasons why Illinois has been a leader in biodiesel production the last two years, including strong demand, plentiful soybeans and multiple soybean crushing facilities and biodiesel refineries. Since 2003, the year the Illinois sales tax emption for biodiesel went into effect, annual biodiesel production capacity in the state has increased from 20 million gallons to a record 188 million gallons in 2010. Production in 2011 is expected to set another record. Between 2004 and 2010 the biodiesel industry accounted for nearly $2.7 billion of Illinois gross domestic product and supported nearly 8,000 jobs in the state, according to Cardno ENTRIX, a Houston-based environmental and natural resources consulting company.

Biodiesel's exemption from sales tax is a major reason why Renewable Energy Group Inc., the nation's largest biodiesel producer, is operating two plants in the state, according to Scott Hedderich, REG director of corporate affairs, who attended the IL Soy 2020 forum. "Illinois sold more biodiesel than any other state in 2010 and continues to be a national leader today," he said. The REG plant in Danville has a 45 MMgy production capacity and its new plant in Seneca has a 60 MMgy capacity. Together the two plants have created 72 fulltime jobs.

IL Soy 2020 is a semi-annual forum, in which ISA brings state and national soybean industry leaders together to discuss the future of the soybean industry. Jonelle Brent, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Weights and Measures Bureau, thanked the Illinois Soybean Association for the continued collaboration to ensure consistent biodiesel fuel quality in Illinois.

Yorkville farmer and ISA Vice Chairman Bill Wykes said quality control for biodiesel is an example of the farmers' commitment to quality products and customer satisfaction. "From the seed we plant to the end-product we produce, we are striving for quality, because we are concerned about the needs of our customers, whether they raise livestock with our soybean meal or make fuel with our soybean oil."

The ISA is the statewide organization for Illinois soybean growers. The farmers on its board administer soybean checkoff funds to support research, promotions and educational programs designed to increase demand for Illinois soybeans and administer legislation and membership programs. For more information, visit www.ilsoy.org.

 
 
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