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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

A 20-Year Success Story

The Minnesota state Capitol building in Saint Paul

Twenty years ago, Minnesota became a trailblazer in biodiesel policy by passing the first-ever state biodiesel mandate in 2002.

The accomplishment was the result of years of work by many groups, perhaps most notably the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the farmers of which the organization is comprised, and by which it is led.

Interesting tales abound of farmers and farmer-leaders making dozens of trips to Saint Paul with soybean growers lining the walls of hearing rooms, a few of which I included my recent book, The Birth of American Biodiesel.

Three years later, in 2005, the Minnesota biodiesel mandate took effect. It began as a 2 percent requirement that eventually bumped up to 5, 10, and then 20 percent, where it stands today—in the warmer months of April through September, reverting back to 5 percent in the colder season.

Other states followed, with their own versions of incentives, mandates or clean fuel standards. Just this spring, two states— Iowa and Illinois—doubled down on biodiesel legislation, which is further discussed on page 12 in the news section.

These legislative efforts were driven, once again, by state soybean associations and their farmer-leaders and members.

In this tumultuous time of energy insecurity, global-power realignment and the reemergence of the dangers associated with depending on hostile foreign governments for fuel—much like the way things were 20 years ago when Minnesota passed the first state biodiesel mandate in the U.S.—it is comforting to know nations have the ability to grow, collect or recover renewable materials in perpetuity to satisfy a growing portion of their fuel requirements.

There will always be some people who oppose government mandates of any sort. Others will continue to propagate the food-versus-fuel fallacy. And others yet will say, “If it’s not electrification, then it’s a waste of time.”

These detractors are entitled to their opinions. But while they think up ways to thwart your progress, the world’s farmers, livestock producers, renderers and grease collectors remain busy growing and recovering the food, feed and fuel our global society needs to keep moving forward.

Ron Kotrba

Editor and Publisher


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