AGP official: Exports, energy a balancing act

By | April 06, 2007
The demand for domestic energy shouldn't cause the United States to lose its footing in the world export markets, according to an official from Ag Processing Inc. (AGP). Peter Mishek, AGP's manager of international trade and business development, warned soy growers that the United States needs to find the delicate balance between the production of domestic energy and the expansion of export markets at the 2007 Northern Soybean Expo & Trade Show, held Feb. 13 in Fargo, N.D.

"All those piling on the biofuels bandwagon need to be wary of the road ahead," Mishek told expo attendees. He was supportive of biodiesel and discussed AGP's role in the growing industry. The company operates a recently expanded 30 MMgy biodiesel facility in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. The Iowa plant was initially constructed in 1996. AGP is also building a 28 MMgy plant in St. Joseph, Mo., which is expected to begin production in September 2007.

While AGP is heavily involved in the U.S. renewable fuels industries, it's also a leading exporter of soy products such as oil, meal and whole soybeans. The company touts itself as the largest cooperative soybean processing company in the world. "We must compete for the export market," Mishek said.

He said countries such as Argentina and Chile are investing capital in soy product export terminals, which U.S. companies have already done. AGP recently completed work on a massive Port of Grays Harbor export facility expected to cut up to two days of transport time between the West Coast and other Pacific Rim countries. The project in Aberdeen, Wash., was a joint venture between AGP, the Port of Grays Harbor and the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad.

Mishek also suggested the possibility of letting existing biodiesel and ethanol production incentives, and import tariff barriers, expire. "Let biofuels stand on its own merit," he said.

John Plaza, founder of Imperium Renewables in Grays Harbor, Wash., agreed that a balance must be found between the domestic biodiesel industry and export markets. He said current soy oil prices are making it difficult for some biodiesel producers to remain competitive with diesel fuel.

Imperium Renewables, a 100 MMgy biodiesel plant currently under construction, would consume nearly 4 percent of the 2006 U.S. soy crop if the facility solely relied on domestic soy oil for feedstock, Mishek said. While Imperium Renewables will rely partially on U.S. soy oil, it will also take in other oil crops-both domestic and international. "We can't expect soybeans to be the single source (of feedstock)," Plaza said. "This has to be taken into a bigger scope that is beyond one feedstock and one product."

More information on AGP's Port of Grays Harbor project is available at
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