Biodiesel became a one-billion gallon industry, setting an all-time production record last year.

That’s thanks in part to its predominant fuel source: soy biodiesel.

U.S. biodiesel production far exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2011 production requirement of 800 million gallons. In fact, production reached nearly 1.1 billion gallons, which surpassed the previous record of 690 million gallons set in 2008.

U.S. soybean farmers and their checkoff helped establish soy’s role in the biodiesel marketplace, originally looking for a new use of surplus soybean oil more than 20 years ago. Today, the soybean checkoff continues to support biodiesel through research and education efforts.

“As Americans, we have a need for an American fuel and the checkoff is seeing the investment start to come to fruition,” says Robert Stobaugh, soybean farmer from Atkins, Ark., and United Soybean Board farmer-director.

“The checkoff marketing efforts at the state and national level helped soy become the primary source and we still have room for growth.”

The industry expects biodiesel production to grow even larger in 2012. And the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard requires it to meet 1 billion gallons again next year.

As production continues to increase, diesel users will be able to find biodiesel more readily than ever before.

“Biodiesel is now more available and as it expands into metropolitan areas it will be easier for the rural areas to get a hold of it,” adds Stobaugh. “As our urban neighbors pick up the torch and carry it, we won’t have to ask for it — fuel suppliers will already have

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org.