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Soybean checkoff upping biodiesel ante

Leaders of the U.S. oilheat industry recently announced a joint partnership with soybean checkoff farmer-leaders and representatives of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) that could mean more demand for biodiesel and a cleaner product for oilheat users known by the brand name Bioheat.

Bioheat offers a seamless way to reduce harmful emissions and petroleum use in the United States. Bioheat, usually sold as a blend of 5 percent biodiesel and 95 percent petroleum heating oil, works in home and commercial heating systems affordably, with smooth operation that can reduce harmful emissions.

“By using a blend of biodiesel, we can effectively reduce petroleum use here in Massachusetts and beyond,” said Michael Ferrante, president of the Massachusetts Oilheat Council. “We can open up an entire new arena for our customers with a cleaner-burning renewable fuel.”

Massachusetts represents the first state in the nation to create a Bioheat requirement. Connecticut approved a similar measure this year. The industry expects more states to enact similar laws.

“We need to reduce our carbon footprint as an industry,” said Paul Nazzaro, NBB liaison to the petroleum industry. “We are taking a proactive approach by using ultra-low-sulfur heating oil with renewable biodiesel.”

In an effort to set the industry on a new cleaner, greener and more sustainable course, the U.S. heating oil industry has reached out to U.S. soybean farmers and the rest of the U.S. biodiesel industry to meet increased demand to use biodiesel in the nearly 8-billion-gallon-a-year heating oil market.

The Bioheat market, at a 5 percent biodiesel blend, has the potential to increase demand for biodiesel by 450 million gallons annually.

“The soybean checkoff looks forward to working with this important U.S. energy sector to reduce our petroleum dependence and increase soy biodiesel and Bioheat demand all across the country,” said Joel Thorsrud, a United Soybean Board farmer-leader from Hillsboro, N.D.

“They’re our soybeans. Let’s put them to work for us.”

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

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