An energy bill recently approved by the Senate could result in higher soybean prices for growers, the American Soybean Association says.

"Securing passage of the biodiesel tax incentive and other measures designed to encourage the use of the fuel is our top legislative priority for the year," says American Soybean Association President Ron Heck of Perry, Iowa.

Now the group says it's one step closer to that goal thanks to the Senate legislation, which includes the ASA-backed biodiesel tax incentive. The bill also includes a one-cent reduction of the diesel excise tax per percentage of biodiesel blended with diesel, up to 20 percent, and a Renewable Fuels Standard that calls for the nation's fuel supply to increase its use of renewable domestic fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, to 5 billion gallons in 2012.

Heck says, "Incentives increasing biodiesel demand will boost the need for soybean oil, its primary feedstock, which in turn will raise the price of soybeans. There are other reasons why biodiesel is so important to our country, in addition to these economic benefits. Biodiesel is made primarily from soybean oil grown here in the United States, so it lessens our country's dependence on foreign oil. With over 55 percent of the oil we consume coming from the highly unstable Middle East, renewables like biodiesel should become a larger portion of our nation's fuel supply."

Biodiesel, which is a clean-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel fuel that is produced primarily from soybean oil, offers benefits as well, he says. "An increased demand for biodiesel could also create thousands of jobs across the U.S. economy, and emissions of greenhouse gases and particulate matter would be significantly reduced by increased biodiesel use."

e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com