The USDA has announced that in response to comments received, it was making changes in the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program that will make biofuels produced in facilities located in non-rural areas, as well as those that are foreign-owned, eligible for program payments. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has been pressing for these modifications, as the requirements unfairly excluded valuable biodiesel production facilities that utilize domestic soy feedstocks and benefit American farmers and their communities.

"ASA applauds the USDA announcement that it is removing the rural area and domestic ownership requirements that were imposed last year in the Biofuel Payment Program," says ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean grower from Sidney, OH. "Those requirements were not intended by Congress and were inconsistent with the overall goals of USDA biofuels programs: to increase domestic, renewable energy sources and expand markets for farmers."

ASA successfully worked with the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to include the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program in the 2008 Farm Bill as a program that will help grow the domestic biodiesel industry and the use of U.S. soybean oil as a primary feedstock. Biodiesel results in significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum diesel and is the only advanced biofuel that is currently commercially available in the U.S.

"Biodiesel has provided a significant market opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers, as well as jobs and economic stimulus for the U.S. economy," Joslin says. "ASA thanks USDA for making these changes in response to the comments received, including those ASA submitted earlier this year. ASA strongly made the case to USDA that provisions that excluded from eligibility for the program any facilities located outside of areas designated by USDA as 'rural,' as well as foreign-owned facilities, made no economic sense. These plants employ U.S. workers, use U.S. soybean oil, and support U.S. farmers and local economies."

USDA will issue an amendment to its earlier notice and request applications from advanced biofuel producers at non-rural biofuel facilities and foreign-owned biofuel facilities.

"The production and market competitiveness of advanced biofuels is very difficult, especially under the current economic conditions," Joslin says. "The Advanced Biofuel Program provides much needed assistance to advanced biofuel producers who are struggling to maintain production, jobs, and the significant infrastructure investment they have made."