The American Soybean Association is urging the U.S. Senate to pass H.R. 4213, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act, which includes retroactive extension of the vital biodiesel tax credit.

The biodiesel tax credit expired on Dec. 31, 2009, and its retroactive extension is urgently needed to save the 23,000 jobs that the industry supports. Following the successful cloture vote Monday, the Senate should move to quickly pass the bill and seek agreement with the House on a final bill that can be passed and signed into law as soon as possible.

“Expiration of the biodiesel tax incentive has essentially caused the production and use of biodiesel in the U.S. to cease and has placed thousands of jobs currently supported by the domestic biodiesel industry in immediate jeopardy,” said Rob Joslin, ASA president and soybean producer from Sidney, Ohio. “Companies have already started laying-off employees, and this situation is certain to worsen the longer the tax incentive is allowed to lapse.”

Biodiesel has provided a significant market opportunity for U.S. soybean farmers, as well as jobs and economic development for rural communities, and helps reduce our nation’s dependence on imported petroleum. Production of biodiesel supports higher prices paid to farmers for their soybeans, which provides employment opportunities in both urban and rural communities.

The biodiesel tax incentive, which is structured as a federal excise tax credit, amounts to a penny per percentage point of biodiesel blended with petroleum diesel. The incentive makes biodiesel more competitive with petroleum diesel, and lowers the cost of biodiesel to the end consumer.

“Biodiesel has the best energy balance and the best greenhouse gas reduction of any fuel that is currently in the commercial marketplace, and biodiesel is the only advanced biofuel that has reached commercialization in the United States,” Joslin said. “Biodiesel is a homegrown renewable fuel and an excellent way for America’s soybean growers to boost U.S. energy security, promote economic development and improve the environment. ASA urges Congress to enact a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit as soon as possible.”

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.