It decreases the need for foreign oil.
Janelle Rucker - Central Ohio Gazzette - July 2, 2006
Dan Corcoran uses soy bio-diesel daily in his farming operation in Pike County. Alternative fuels are nothing new to Ohio farmers.
Many agricultural organizations have been investing time and money in research and promotion of biodiesel and ethanol for years.
"Our organization has been leading the way in Ohio on the promotion of ethanol since its inception in 1989," said Dwayne Siekman, executive director of Ohio Corn Growers Association.
From using biodiesels in farming equipment to selling their crops for use in the production of ethanol and biodiesel, alternate fuels are a way of life for local farmers.
Use what they grow
Fayette County farmer Ron Rockhold isn't ashamed to tell you he loves biodiesel.
Actually he can get his point across without speaking a word. Decked out in his biodiesel hat and driving around with biodiesel stickers on his truck, Rockhold promotes a fuel he says lubricates his injection system better than regular diesel and burns cleaner. He made the switch two years ago for more personal reasons.
"Well, I raise soybeans and that's what it's made out of," he said. "If I can't support my own product, I need to have my head examined."
His Caterpillar tractor and two John Deere tractors all run on biodiesel.
Rockhold isn't the only local farmer who has made the switch.
Corcoran brothers Dan, Pat, Tim and Dennis use soy biodiesel in their vehicles and farming equipment on their Pike County farm where they have corn, soybean and wheat crops.
"It's good on my engine," said Dan Corcoran, who also serves as the vice chairman of the Ohio Soybean Council. "It's been tested extensively through different research facilities. It works just as good, if not better than, regular diesel."
A big perk is also the cost, which is cheaper than regular diesel right now, Dan said, and in a world far away from their Ohio farm, using American made fuel betters the big picture.
"It decreases the need for foreign oil," he said. "It's domestically produced out of soybean."
Both Dan and Rockhold purchase their biodiesel from area suppliers. Dan gets his from the Citgo station on South Paint Street and Petron Oil.
Whether consumers know it or not, they also use an ethanol blend of gasoline, Siekman said.
"A 10 percent blend is already used in the state," he said.
Creating a market
The establishment of ethanol plants around the state and the increased demand for biodiesel have created a new marketplace for local farmers' produce.
The demand could possibly drive up prices of such crops as corn and soybeans.
Although the Corcorans usually sell their corn locally and in Cincinnati, Dan said they'll consider selling to the new ethanol plant in Bloomingburg.
"It will allow us to have a potential increase in production," Dan said. "It's better for us."
Rockhold plans to start selling bushels from his crops to the new ethanol plant "as soon as we get it built," he said.
Dan doesn't expect the increase in demand for corn and soy to affect the performance of any other crop, except for the possibility of wheat.
Wheat used to be a major crop in Ohio, he said, but has decreased in standing over the past few years as corn and soybeans have climbed to the top of the list.
To those who say alternative fuels won't catch on and ethanol isn't cost-efficient, Rockhold disagrees.
"But neither is gasoline," he said. "It takes more energy to make a gallon of gas than we get out of it. I don't care what people say, it's been proven that we get more energy out of ethanol than it takes to make it."
Rockhold is confident ethanol prices will come down as more production plants are built and encourages consumers to use alternative fuels sooner rather than later.
"That's what it's going to take to bring the new plants online," he said. "If (everybody) can see it's making a profit, they'll build more," creating an ample supply to match the demand, bringing the prices down and providing a healthy market for farmers.
Rockhold acknowledges it will take some time before the cycle becomes beneficial to everyone - farmers, alternative fuel producers and consumers.
"When you're bringing a new product online, it's hard to compete with what's there before," he said.
Interest in alternative fuels has been a long time coming, a situation farmers are glad to see the nation is beginning to take seriously.
"Our organization has invested money in soy based biodiesel research and promotion for 11 years now," Dan Corcoran said. "It's been a long road, but it's good it's coming back to the farmers."