On August 26, 2014, a group of Ohio soybean farmers, industry representatives and OSC staff gathered in Cincinnati at the Marathon plant for the Ohio Soy 2020 forum. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from and engage with a panel of industry experts in biodiesel as well as take a tour of the plant.
Built in 1998 by Proctor and Gamble, the plant has been producing biodiesel since 2002. This facility has a capacity of 60 million gallons of biodiesel annually, which uses the oil from 40 million bushels of soybeans.
The primary objective of Ohio Soy 2020 is to provide industry-wide information on issues that may impact the Ohio soy value chain, enabling the industry to create long-term strategies for an increasingly global and changing environment. Biodiesel is an important source of demand for Ohio’s soybean industry, so a visit to the marathon facility was a timely opportunity. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2013 Ohio produced 65 million gallons of biodiesel from its three production facilities contributing an oil demand of about 43 million bushels of soybeans.
An overview of the biodiesel market was provided with remarks from Steven Levy, Managing Director, Sprague Operating Resources LLC. Levy leads Sprague’s clean fuels product and business development activities. He defined statistics for the growing biodiesel market outlining an increase of 112 million gallons in 2005 to 1.8 billion in 2013 with soybean oil making up 48% of the feedstock for production.
Commenting on the program, Levy said, “I would like to applaud the Ohio Soybean Council for initiating and hosting Ohio Soy 2020. It reflects the Ohio Soybean Council’s critical role of helping to establish the biodiesel industry and continued leadership in guiding the industry as it moves forward.”
Representing the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), Anne Steckel spoke about state biodiesel requirements, Renewable Fuel Standards, and state incentives, and gave an overview of the NBB’s work to promote biodiesel production and usage. Steckel stated the proposed RFS for 2014 is down to 15.21 billion gallons from 16.55 billion gallons in 2013. NBB continues to work with Administration officials and Congress on an updated 2014 biodiesel proposal.
Lastly, Randall Besecker of Marathon Petroleum discussed biodiesel procurement issues and overall oil market trends. Diving in deeper to the logistics and financial risk management, Besecker touched on the challenges the soybean industry faces due to other feedstock availability such as palm.
The Ohio Soy 2020 forum reinforced both the opportunities and the challenges faced by the biodiesel industry. As a longstanding Ohio-based company, Marathon Petroleum has made a commitment to biodiesel production in Ohio. The Ohio Soy 2020 forum gave participants a better understanding of the biodiesel market, now and in the future.
“Soy biodiesel has benefitted Ohio soybean farmers, and it is important to support production and usage of this renewable fuel.” said Bret Davis, OSC board member and soybean farmer from Delaware County.