Biodiesel is helping to keep Minnesota’s air clean, while creating jobs and economic activity around the state. But most people don’t know the meat, eggs and milk on your dinner table are also cheaper thanks to this renewable fuel.
Soybeans are made up of oil, and meal. Twenty percent of the bean is oil, 40 percent protein and 40 percent energy and fiber. Meal is typically used for livestock or pet food. Some of the oil goes to food applications such as cooking oil, margarine and salad dressing as well as an ingredient in many baked items. Because of the presence of other vegetable oils in the market, the demand for soybean oil was diminished and there was a surplus of soybean oil flooding the market. Now, biodiesel offers a substantial outlet for the excess soybean oil that isn’t needed for the food industry.
Minnesota is one of the nation’s leaders in the development of biodiesel. Currently there are three operating biodiesel plants in the state that refine soybean oil and recycled cooking oil into a fuel for diesel engines. This biodiesel is then blended with petroleum diesel for use in diesel engines in cars, buses, trucks, tractors, even tugboats and locomotives.
Since a good portion of soybean’s total value comes from the oil, companies that process soybeans are able to keep the price of soybean meal down, which is good for livestock producers. Most soybean meal produced in Minnesota is used for livestock feed. Meal is fed to hogs, turkeys, chickens, cattle and even fish. A recent economic study by Informa Economics showed that biodiesel production actually helped reduce the cost of soybean meal by $25 per ton. That’s a substantial savings for livestock farmers, which means food items like meat and eggs you buy at the grocery store are actually cheaper than they would be if biodiesel didn’t exist.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified biodiesel as the nation’s only advanced biofuel, meaning it is renewable and better for the environment than petroleum fuels. It’s also helping to reduce the cost of feeding our families.