ASA calls for Biodiesel Fuel Education Program reauthorization

By Erin Voegele | February 20, 2012

The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a Farm Bill hearing on Rural Development and Energy on Feb. 15. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack opened the testimony by speaking about the importance of energy policy in the Farm Bill.

“Biofuels, biomass, wind and solar rely primarily on farm, ranch, and forest lands, the potential for renewable energy development resides predominantly in our Nation’s rural regions,” Vilsack said. “Certainly, renewable energy is an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country, while biofuels and biomass offer exciting new opportunities for entrepreneurs and, in particular, for American agricultural producers. Our nation’s future depends on out-innovating, out-investing, out-educating, and out-building our competitors in an increasingly integrated and competitive world economy.”

One of the many energy-related components of the Farm Bill that is up for reauthorization is the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, which is a grant program that supports the education of government and private entities that operate fleets, other interested entities and members of the public about the benefits of biodiesel. The American Soybean Association submitted written testimony to the hearing calling for the reauthorization of the program.

“The Biodiesel Education Program plays a vital role in helping expand marketplace acceptance and use of biodiesel as a low-carbon, renewable diesel replacement fuel,” said ASA President Steve Wellman. “It supports technical outreach efforts to engine manufacturers, truckers, and fuel marketers that will eventually allow the use of higher biodiesel blends in conventional diesel applications. The education program serves to expand and increase market penetration, thus promoting growth for the entire industry. This translates into higher production, more jobs, and more economic value, especially in rural communities.”

In his comments, Wellman also addressed the economic impact of the biodiesel industry, which he said is especially strong in rural areas. The industry supported more than 39,000 jobs in 2011 and generated more than $1.7 billion in income while creating more than $3 billion in gross domestic product, he said. Regarding rural development, Wellman pointed out that most of the 170 biodiesel plants in operation in the U.S. are located in rural areas and that the majority of biodiesel feedstock production originates in rural areas as well.

In addition to supporting the reauthorization of the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, the ASA is also advocated for the Biobased Market Program. “The Biobased Market Program continues and expands the federal biobased procurement program and voluntary labeling program,” Wellman said. “This is an effective and important program for promoting the emerging biobased industry, which has significant potential to enhance agricultural markets, displace foreign petroleum and fossil fuels, and contribute new green jobs to the economy.”


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