Missouri may be known for the largest beer producing plant in the nation (the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis) or for Kansas City’s many fountains (more than any city except Rome), but it is making news today for another reason.
In Missouri, soybean farmers and biodiesel processors, distributors, and retailers have come together to launch a new partnership, the Biodiesel Coalition of Missouri, which aims to grow the use of the EPA-designated advanced biofuel. The Coalition partners will work to increase the availability of clean, renewable biodiesel across Missouri through promotion and training initiatives for distributors and retailers, as well as diesel vehicle drivers, community leaders and other interested Missourians. While Missouri ranks second nationally for biodiesel production, the state has only a few dozen retail locations offering biodiesel for sale, according to their press release on Missouri Soy.
Over the past three decades, Missouri soybean farmers have invested in the research and partnerships to transform biodiesel from an idea into a more than 200 million gallon success story. Today, biodiesel supports more than 2,500 Missouri jobs directly, according to their press release. Accounting for jobs created and supported indirectly by the biodiesel grows that jobs number to roughly 6,400. Biodiesel can be used in existing diesel engines without modification and is covered by all major engine manufacturers’ warranties.
The Coalition is made up of a who’s who in Mid-western USA and founding members include producers and processors, as well as fuel distributors. ADM, Cargill, Paseo Biofuels, Biofuels LLC, Mid-America Biofuels, National Biodiesel Board, Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council representatives have come together to establish this new partnership.
The Missouri Biodiesel Coalition is led by Warren Stemme, a farmer and chair of the Biofuels, LLC board of directors. Greer, of MFA Oil Company in Columbia, serves as vice-chairman. Gary Wheeler of the Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and Cliff Smith of Mid-America Biofuels serve as the secretary and treasurer, respectively. Tony Stafford serves as the Coalition’s executive director.
The new partnership was created to ensure a sustainable and stable commercial biodiesel industry for the Show-Me State.
“Biodiesel started out as an idea – an opportunity to add value to soybean oil and help the farm economy,” said Warren Stemme, a soybean farmer from Chesterfield who is among the founders of the Coalition. “Farmers invested in the technology, and then in biodiesel processing plants. Now we see biodiesel has grown into an important market, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. We’re committed to ensuring Missouri enjoys these benefits for the long haul.”
“MFA Oil started marketing biodiesel in 1993 and statewide in 2000 and we had to learn the business on our own,” said James Greer, vice president of supply & government affairs with MFA Oil Company. “This coalition brings together producers, marketers, and industry organizations to work together for the benefit of the biodiesel industry.”
Show-Me the Biofuel
The Show-Me state has had other interesting news of late, including in October 2017 as reported in the Digest, when researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology developed a small, modular skid-mounted biodiesel production facility ideal for smaller communities and towns to recycle used cooking oil. The system uses a supercritical process that eliminates salt, allowing it to concentrate the glycerin/water mixture and significantly reduce the amount of glycerin produced in the process. It can also recycle the methanol, reducing the amount of inputs required. The work is funded by the National Science Foundation.
As reported in the Digest in May 2017, Missouri miscanthus farmers were happy with the results they’re getting on their 3,700 acres of marginal land they’ll grow the crop on this year, in no small part thanks to the price stability offered by Renew Biomass who harvests, bales and markets the crop for them. But the market wasn’t biofuel because oil prices were too low and Iowa farmers are growing corn for ethanol. If prices could match what pet food manufacturers are paying for the fiber, then the market for the miscanthus would switch, but no one was holding their breath for that to happen.
Missouri has also found that switchgrass, often used for biofuel, can improve soil quality where topsoil has been lost, making it a win-win for farmers, assuming a good market is available for switchgrass, as reported in the Digest in December 2016.
As reported in the Digest in March 2017, Missouri’s state government was working with the legislature on a budget that could include $3.5 million funds for the agriculture department to be directed towards the biofuel producers fund the previous governor tried and failed to cut back.
The good news for biodiesel specifically is that the state has a “Missouri Biodiesel Producer Incentive Fund” that was created in 2002 to encourage biodiesel production in Missouri. The fund provides that “biodiesel produced in the state by a facility that is at least 51 percent owned by Missouri agricultural producers or which uses feedstock that is at least 80 percent of Missouri origin, is eligible for a grant in any fiscal year equal to thirty cents per gallon for the first 15 million gallons produced from Missouri agricultural products and ten cents per gallon for the next 15 million gallons.”
“One-hundred percent of the feedstock must originate in the United States,” according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. “The maximum grant per fiscal year is $6 million per plant. Biodiesel producers are eligible for such grants for a total of sixty months. To obtain a grant from the fund, biodiesel producers must be eligible, licensed, and must submit a formal grant application.”
The bottom line is this new collaboration in Missouri, alongside its recent research on biofuels and biodiesel, and strong government support for the industry, makes it even stronger. Missouri has been teaming up with other Midwestern states to urge President Trump to support the RFS and biofuel industry. The state is taking action and with the new Missouri Biodiesel Coalition, is an even bigger force to be reckoned with for biodiesel.