Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has announced that the Division of Forestry will begin using biodiesel fuel in some of its heavy equipment and maintenance vehicles, including motor graders, tractors, backhoes, and loaders.

Biodiesel fuel is an alternative fuel that uses a mixture of diesel and renewable resources, such as soybeans. The Division of Forestry will test a mixture containing 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent regular diesel, also referred to as B20.

Not only are the costs of biodiesel fuel the same or slightly less than regular diesel, the use is also cleaner for the environment. The Division of Forestry uses more than 1 million gallons of fuel per year, with diesel usage accounting for 65 percent of that total.

Two of the Division’s largest Districts, Withlacoochee (Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Pasco and Sumter counties) and Blackwater (Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties) have launched the program by installing a specifically-designated fuel apparatus to accommodate the use of B20 at on-site storage tanks used to dispense the fuel. It has not been necessary to make any modifications to equipment.

The Bunnell District (Flagler, St. Johns and Volusia counties) is already using B20 fuel from the Department of Transportation in Deland. During the first eight months of this year, the District successfully used 11,300 gallons of B20.

It is anticipated that the program will ultimately be expanded to include more equipment throughout the Division’s 15 Districts.

As the architect of Florida’s new “Farm to Fuel” initiative, Bronson is working to reduce the use of fossil fuel and help cut Florida and the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

“We have been working with our agricultural producers, university scientists and businesses with the capability of constructing processing facilities to come together to make Florida a leader in the production of alternative fuels,” Bronson said. “It is important that public agencies do their part and demonstrate a commitment to the program.”