Sun Power Biodiesel promotes local crops

By Ryan C. Christiansen | September 16, 2008
Web exclusive posted Oct. 6, 2008 at 4:45 p.m. CST

Sun Power Biodiesel LLC in Cumberland, Wis., has been awarded a $25,000 Agriculture Development and Diversity grant from the state of Wisconsin to helpthe company promote the planting of canola and sunflower crops in a 10-county area in northern Wisconsin.

According to Ron Ruppel, chief executive officer for Sun Power Biodiesel, the company would like to increase the availability of locally grown feedstock for the company's 3 MMgy plant in Cumberland, Wis. The company's goal is to increase local oilseed crop production by 10,000 acres. Ruppel said Sun Power Biodiesel prefers to use locally grown canola and sunflower oils as feedstocks because of the superior cold-flow properties of those oils.

The land that Sun Power Biodiesel will be promoting for oilseed production is acreage where corn and soybeans cannot be grown competitively, Ruppel said. Under Sun Power Biodiesel's current business plan, the company projects being able to obtain 30 percent of its feedstock from locally grown crops. It would like to increase that percentage to 50 percent or 75 percent, he said. Sun Power Biodiesel began educating farmers in the area last spring about the viability and value of the crops, Ruppel said, and the new grant money will help to continue the education program.

"Hopefully, the farming public will know that these are viable crops and if they grow them, there will be a local market," Ruppel said. "They can see the prices that are currently being offered in North Dakota as evidence to the value of the crop and what we have been paying for it, also. If we pay market price, that makes their crops more valuable, because they don't have to transport them to North Dakota to get the price. If we can get growers comfortable with how they can make more money in growing these crops, we will hopefully reach our targets."
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