WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Legend has it that nearly 200 years ago, finding impressive apple trees in Defiance, Ohio, Johnny Appleseed established a nursery business in the rural community.
Today, he would still find apple trees, but he would also find a blooming biodiesel plant.
American Ag Fuels, based in Defiance, is growing its annual biodiesel production from 2 million to 5 million gallons. By the time the plant completes the expansion next March, it will have nearly 20 full-time and eight part-time employees, in addition to boosting business for the local contractors who are involved in the construction.
It's just one example of how the growing biodiesel industry is feeding the U.S. economy through job creation, tax revenues and farm income.
"We decided to expand because frankly we've had trouble keeping up with demand," says American Ag Fuels President Steve Lankenau.
The National Biodiesel Board today released a new economic study that shows how biodiesel plants are a boon to the U.S. economy as they sprout up across the nation.
According to the economic analysis by John M. Urbanchuk of LECG and funded by the soybean checkoff through the United Soybean Board, the aggregate economic benefits of biodiesel include:
"Because these plants buy local goods and local services, the second- and third-round employment-generating impacts are really significant," Urbanchuk said. "You're looking at a fairly substantial employment-generating impact. Most of these jobs are going to be located in rural communities, and you can't overstate the impact of the biofuels' industry on these rural economies."
The study finds that if 498 of the 650 million gallons of estimated biodiesel demand in 2015 is produced from soybean oil, farmer-level soybean prices will increase nearly 10 percent. Using the USDA's 2006 Long-Term Baseline forecast for soybean prices as a starting point, farmers can expect increased biodiesel demand to increase average soybean prices $0.58 per bushel by 2015.
American Ag's Lankenau says his plant's expansion will be worthwhile investment for his business, and for his community.
"I have to believe that 80 percent of dollars we've spent stay within 150 miles of here," he said, adding that of all the businesses he's run, this is the most fulfilling. "I drive my diesel pickup through our rural area where I see soybeans growing, and it makes me feel good about what I do."
There are 88 plants in the nation producing an estimated 200-250 million gallons of biodiesel in 2006. That's triple last year's production of 75 million gallons.
Additional information about biodiesel is available online at www.biodiesel.org. A summary of the economic study is here.
SOURCE: National Biodiesel Board.