ST. LOUIS -- To promote the availability and use of soy biodiesel, the United Soybean Board and soybean checkoff will be enlisting some help this spring. The soybean checkoff will be working with selected U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities chapters to assist in promoting soy biodiesel and soy-based products.

The Clean Cities program is a government-industry partnership sponsored by USDOE and has more than 90 local chapters across the United States. These chapters work in their local areas to reduce petroleum consumption.

"It's important for the soybean checkoff to demonstrate that we have a cleaner product with soy biodiesel that cities can use in their diesel vehicles without having to make modifications to the fleets," says Geno Lowe, a soybean farmer from Hebron, Md., and soybean checkoff leader. "Communicating benefits of soy biodiesel helps soybean farmers move more of our product, and it benefits the environment."

The soybean checkoff has been instrumental in developing the soy biodiesel industry and continues to fund research to prove the benefits of this domestically-produced fuel.

"The research shows it has cleaner emissions, and with the lower sulfur standards in conventional fuel, biodiesel can improve lubricity," adds Lowe, who uses biodiesel on his farm.

The demand for biodiesel has increased dramatically. In 2004, the biodiesel industry sold 25 million gallons of pure biodiesel, and by 2008, production reached almost 700 million gallons. Part of this increase is due to the growing number of farmers using biodiesel, as now nearly half of all U.S. soybean farmers use biodiesel.

USB asks that Clean Cities applicants develop programs that communicate the benefits of soy biodiesel through education, demonstrations and promotional activities in suburban and urban areas. The checkoff also partners with Clean Cities chapters to promote biobased products. Through the biobased program, four state coalitions will be reimbursed for programs focused on increasing the use of biobased products.

The checkoff has opened the biodiesel reimbursement application process and encourages Clean Cities chapters to partner with Qualified State Soybean Boards (QSSBs) for this project. The application period will close May 8. Participants will be selected by USB farmer-leaders. USB has provided up to $100,000 to use toward the funding of these soy biodiesel communications programs.

Selected participants in this reimbursement program will be announced to the media at the beginning of June.

USB is made up of 68 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.