A group of Minnesota soybean growers, in conjunction with the National Biodiesel Board, are in California this week visiting a biodiesel plant at the Ventura County Naval Base and meeting with local farmers.
“It’s been very interesting,” says Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) Director Jim Willers. “We’ve invested a lot of money in California, working on new fuel standards, and we wanted to see where our product goes.”
They also toured the Red Rock Ranch, a 25,000 acre multi-generational family farm in California’s Central Valley, and met with the ranch’s owner, John Diener. On Thursday, the farming leaders attended the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif.
“How California utilizes all these resources is very encouraging,” says Mike Youngerberg, Minnesota Soybean’s senior director of product development and commercialization.
California is the largest biodiesel user in the United States, consuming more than 390 million gallons a year. The state is projected to use 800 million gallons by 2020 and up to 1.5 billion gallons by 2030.
To borrow a cliche, as goes California, so goes the nation. But they’ll need assistance from Minnesota soybeans.
“They’re trying to become self-sufficient with renewable energy but they can only do so much,” Youngerberg says. “They have to bring it in from somewhere, and Minnesota makes it a good spot to come from.”
“A lot of farms in the valley are eventually going to be capable of producing their own energy,” Willers says. “It’s quite something.”
Willers was accompanied by Minnesota Soybean Growers Association (MSGA) Vice President Mike Petefish and MSR&PC Director Kris Folland.
“We had a diverse spread of farmer leadership,” Youngerberg says. “California has been a good market for us—hopefully we can keep up the efforts and build on it.”