04 February 2008 17:28 [Source: ICIS news]
ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS news)--Biodiesel industry participants need to campaign urgently and vigorously to ensure US lawmakers include measures to broaden the feedstock base for the biofuel, National Biodiesel Board (NBB) chairman Ed Hegland said on Monday.
The settlement of the Farm Bill was expected within the next six weeks or so, Hegland told the NBB annual conference in ?xml:namespace>
Congress passes a farm bill every five years. The legislation usually includes substantial subsidies, and various interests in the farming sector compete for the biggest share of the pie they can muster.
The biodiesel industry has already made great strides in getting political support, Hegland said, citing the biofuel's inclusion in the latest Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
"The RFS was a huge win for our industry," Hegland said.
NBB officials were focusing on the potential for the government to support a transition to a broader range of feedstocks for biodiesel because the current tight focus on soy oil was hurting producers.
Because soybean prices have been driven up alongside the ethanol-driven boom in corn, the margins for biodiesel producers have been severely squeezed and plants are running at only around 25% of their combined 2.24bn gal/year capacity.
The surging feedstock costs have contributed to a "perfect storm" for the industry, said Graham Noyes, secretary of the NBB.
"Right now the economics are very dire," Noyes said.
Alternate feedstocks that were being looked at include algae. While that would be an exciting prospect, it remained three to seven years in the future, Noyes said.
Bookmark Simon Robinson’s Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels.
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