U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited Ankeny today to announce the first round of grant recipients under the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Associaiton)
Grants accelerate biodiesel availability
October 8, 2020 | Bethany Baratta
Sunny skies and a fresh, new Casey’s location set the stage for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s visit to Ankeny today, where he announced the first round of grant recipients under the USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP).
Perdue announced the department’s $22 million investment in grants available through the HBIPP to recipients in 14 states.
The program, which was announced earlier this year, made up to $100 million in grants available to aid biofuel distribution facilities convert to higher biodiesel and ethanol blends by cost-sharing fuel pump, equipment and infrastructure installation costs. Of the $100 million USDA is providing, $14 million will be used for implementation activities related to blends of biodiesel above 5%, such as B20, USDA said.
Rebeckah Freeman Adcock, administrator for the federal Rural Business Cooperative Service, said additional recipients will be announced in the coming weeks.
Casey’s was awarded $5 million under HBIIP. This means expansion of the company’s options of biodiesel and ethanol at 346 pumps and 70 stations in 13 of the 16 states Casey’s has a presence.
At pump 5, Casey’s CEO Darren Rebelez showed Secretary Perdue the expanded options for his customers.
“This is exactly what we had in mind,” Perdue said. “The real winners are going to be the consumers when they pull up to a pump like that.”
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig regarded today’s announcement as a win-win-win-win; a win for Iowa’s economy, farmers, customers and the environment.
“A strong ethanol industry and a strong biodiesel industry are critically important to our state and to our agriculture industry,” Naig said.
While harvesting his own crops in southwest Iowa, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) President Jeff Jorgenson reflected on today’s announcement.
“Efforts to make homegrown, soy-based biodiesel more readily available is a win for farmers and consumers,” said Jorgenson, who farms near Sidney. “Biodiesel provides an important domestic market for our soybeans and consumers an environmentally friendly fuel choice.”
As farmers harvest another soybean crop, they are mindful of the critical demand and price impact of biodiesel, accounting for nearly $1.15 of the current market price for soybeans, according to StoneX. An investment in infrastructure, like those announced today, is essential in turning the soybeans farmers produce in Iowa into a sustainable fuel for drivers.
“Infrastructure is the key to ensuring we can deliver low carbon fuels to the nation, and these grants will help take us to the next level with that in Iowa and beyond,” said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board.
Iowa ranks first in the nation in biodiesel production; biodiesel plants in the state produced about 345 million gallons of biodiesel in 2019. Nearly one-half of the on-road diesel fuel gallons sold in Iowa contain B11 or higher, according to the state Department of Revenue.
“As the top biodiesel-producing state, Iowa sits at the heart of this energy transformation and our producers and farmers stand ready to grow,” said Kimberley, who also serves as the director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association. “We thank USDA for leading this infrastructure effort.”
Contact Bethany Baratta at email@example.com.