Scot Bailey

ISA District 7 Director Scot Bailey says infrastructure funding is critical in improving bridges, rails, and other means of soy transportation. (Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Infrastructure funding vital to Iowa’s soybean farmers

November 18, 2021 | Bethany Baratta

A recent grant funding announcement at an Iowa biofuels plant provided an opportunity for Iowa Soybean Association District 7 Director Scot Bailey to reiterate the importance of infrastructure funding to Iowa’s soybean farmers.

Bailey and others representing Iowa associations and agribusinesses joined Congresswoman Cindy Axne and USDA’s Under Secretary of Agriculture for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small at the Elite Octane dry-mill ethanol plant in Atlantic to announce a $250,000 energy efficiency grant funded by the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

Elite Octane will use the funding to install a Dryer Exhaust Energy Recovery (DEER) system, which will capture and reuse the energy from the plant’s dryer – allowing the plant to recapture and use 89 million kilowatt hours per year, enough electricity to power nearly 6,000 homes.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Iowa’s biofuels sector is on the cutting edge when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint. Not only do their products help keep millions of pounds of carbon out of our air by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, but they’re also implementing systems to recapture the energy, water, and byproducts that they use in their processes to keep them on a path to being total carbon neutral,” Axne said.

The DEER system is projected by USDA to save the Atlantic plant more than $1.2 million a year in energy costs.

Bailey thanked Congresswoman Axne for her efforts in championing the bipartisan infrastructure package in the House recently.

“These types of investments bode well for Iowa soybean farmers,” says Bailey, who grows soybeans and corn and raises cow-calf pairs and sheep near Anita in Cass County.

He says investing in rural infrastructure, especially bridges and roads, will once again bring a competitive advantage to the state and its farmers.

“If we don’t have our bridges and roads, we can’t transport our products to market,” Bailey says.

Rebuilding locks and dams and continuing the efforts to deepen the lower Mississippi River to allow heavier barges to pass through are also pertinent, he says.

“Deepening the Gulf means we can add more soybeans to a cargo, and that increases our efficiency,” he says. “We’ve got to stay competitive against Brazil.”

On behalf of ISA’s 13,500 farmer members Bailey also urged the Congresswoman to continue advocating for an extension of the biodiesel tax credit.

“Biodiesel production is a critical market for the record soybean crop we’ve grown in the state this year,” Bailey says. “The industry supports 13% of the cash price of every bushel of soybeans grown in Iowa, so this market is vital in supporting soybean prices.”

Support for a four-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit, initially set to expire in 2022, is also found in the draft text of the Build Back Better Act.

The Build Back Better Act proposal also includes:

$1 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide grants over the next 10 years to expand biofuel pump infrastructure, upgrade existing tanks and pumps, and increase usage of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

A new tax credit to support the creation and usage of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, opening a new and growing market for Iowa biofuels and biodiesel.

Contact Bethany Baratta at