(JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.) - In the early 1990s, Missouri soybean farmers funded research into making renewable fuel from soybean oil. Initially called soy diesel, and now, biodiesel, the fuel has significantly lower emissions than petroleum-based diesel, is safer to store and transport, and contributes to energy independence. This week, some of those same farmers are launching a new partnership - the Biodiesel Coalition of Missouri - alongside processors, distributors and retailers 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."
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. 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.
While Missouri ranks second nationally for biodiesel production, the state has only a few dozen retail locations offering biodiesel for sale. 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.
"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."
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.
Founding members of the Coalition 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.
Biodiesel, made from soybean oil, has lower emissions compared to petroleum-based diesel, including 86 percent fewer lifecycle greenhouse gases, 47 percent less particulate matter and a 67 percent reduction in hydrocarbon emissions. It is recognized as the only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel in commercial-scale production, is less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar. Biodiesel also offers superior lubricity, reducing engine wear.
To learn more about the Missouri Biodiesel Coalition, its founders and the opportunities ahead, visit missouribiodiesel.org. Get the latest updates by following @MissouriBiodiesel on Facebook and @MoBiodiesel on Twitter.