Asked what is special about March 18, many in the agriculture industry would point to National Ag Day, but few people likely realize another significant milestone in agriculture happened on March 18, 1858 — Rudolf Diesel was born. Along with National Ag Day, March 18 is also National Biodiesel Day in honor of Diesel’s birthday.
When Diesel developed the first diesel engine it ran on a biofuel, peanut oil. He envisioned a time when vegetable oils would one day be as important as petroleum among transportation fuels.
In the U.S. today, diesel engines move approximately 90 percent of the nation’s goods. Last year nearly 1.8 billion gallons of cleaner burning biodiesel was in the mix, replacing petroleum diesel, and working with clean diesel technology to reduce carbon emissions even further. As a result, consumers, just doing what they do – buying stuff, eating stuff, using stuff – helped support biodiesel and reduce carbon.
Minnesota has been a national leader in biodiesel, passing legislation in 2002 and implementing B2 (2 percent biodiesel) in 2005. Minnesota has since pushed for higher blends, currently requiring B10 in all diesel pumps from April 1 to Sept. 30, and B5 in the winter months. Beginning in the summer of 2018, the summer blend will increase to B20.
“Biodiesel adds .73 cents to every bushel of soybeans sold,” said Chris Hill, a Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director who farms near Brewster, Minn. “Biodiesl also helps the livestock producer by lowering the cost of soybean meal. I think it is a win-win for Minnesota agriculture.”
Hill said biodiesel helps to create jobs in Minnesota, and helps to lower greenhouse gas and particulate emissions. According the American Lung Association of Minnesota, current biodiesel blends in Minnesota are equal to removing 128,000 vehicles from Minnesota roadways each year.
National Ag Day
With multiple farming-related topics top of mind for consumers right now, it’s more important than ever for farmers to engage non-farmers with the true story of today’s agriculture. And there’s no better time to do it than on National Ag Day.
Farmers’ freedom to operate depends in large part on consumers feeling good about the practices and technology being used to raise their food. The soy checkoff partners with multiple organizations and supports the development of resources that farmers can use to connect with consumers in meaningful ways.
This Ag Day, farmers have their choice of plenty of resources to help them do that. The checkoff works with the Center for Food Integrity (CFI), CommonGround and USFRA, all of which support farmers as they answer consumers’ questions, just in different ways:
- Consumer Research –CFI (foodintegrity.org/research/2014-research, @FoodIntegrity) conducts leading-edge consumer research, which results in models of best practices that position farmers for success in connecting with consumers. CFI’s most recent research provides guidance on how to introduce technical and scientific data about food and farming into conversations so that consumers will consider the information in their decision-making process.
- Resources for Moms –The women farmers of CommonGround (FindOurCommonGround.com, @CommonGroundNow) start conversations with moms looking for more information about what they feed their families. CommonGround develops resources, such as videos and infographics, that farmers can share to inform on topics like animal welfare, GMOs and issues related to local and organic production.
- Ag for Movie Night– The goal of USFRA (fooddialogues.com, @USFRA) is to bring the farmer and rancher voice to food and farming conversations with customers. USFRA produces the Food Dialogues, bringing together farmers, consumers, industry representatives and media to discuss the most pressing food topics. Additionally, USFRA supported production of the film, “FARMLAND,” which is now available at Walmart, Netflix and many other outlets.