Biodiesel survey reveals consumer good will

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Chuck Myers was getting a little nervous this spring when he read a story in Newsweek slamming biofuels. It might have been one reason why the United Soybean Board (USB) decided to survey consumers on attitudes toward biodiesel, the renewable fuel made primarily from soybean oil. 

Myers (right), USB vice chair and farmer from Lyons, Neb., told reporters at today's Farm Progress Show that the survey showed 77% of people favor biodiesel as a source of energy, while 70% of consumers find it more favorable because it's a new green industry that creates jobs.

While Myers denied suggestions USB was trying to distance itself from ethanol and the higher food prices controversy that seems to be tailing the industry, it would be easy enough to make such an assumption. At the press conference he noted that biodiesel only takes 2% of the U.S. soybean crop.

"With biodiesel we don't have to choose between food, feed and fuel,•bCrLf he says.

USB won't say it, so let me fill in a few of the missing pieces. By contrast to that 2%, the U.S. ethanol industry will gobble up over 30% of the U.S. corn crop this year, according to USDA estimates. That ever-increasing corn usage for ethanol has spurred debates in Washington over high food costs.

Even so, Myers says the differentiation between corn and soy use for biofuels was not the point of the survey.

"We're not trying to distance ourselves from ethanol,•bCrLf he says. "We just don't want the ethanol issue to spill over to biodiesel. Most farmers who grow beans also grow corn. All biofuels are important to our future.

"We don't want this (survey) to be seen as detrimental to ethanol,•bCrLf Myers continues. "We want them both to succeed. We're pretty confident we can meet all the demands for food, feed and fuel.•bCrLf

Myers says the survey showed that over 70% of consumers believe that the higher cost of food is related to oil prices, not biodiesel or ethanol.

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