The American Soybean Association (ASA) and its 25,000 grower members are pleased that U.S. grown soybeans were on center stage May 16 when President George W. Bush visited a biodiesel production facility in West Point, Va.

The Virginia Biodiesel Refinery, LLC uses the oil from soybeans produced in the state to make soy biodiesel. The President toured the facility in support of America’s need to become less dependent on foreign oil.

"Biodiesel is one of our nation’s most promising alternative fuel sources and by developing biodiesel you’re making this country less dependent on foreign sources of oil," President Bush said.

President Bush’s visit to the Virginia Biodiesel Refinery marks an important milestone in recognition for this alternative fuel, as it is the first time a U.S. President has toured a biodiesel production facility. ASA President Neal Bredehoeft, a soybean producer from Alma, Mo., and ASA Chief Executive Officer Stephen Censky were present during the President’s visit to the facility.

"By visiting a biodiesel production facility, the President has shown that he recognizes the important contribution that U.S. soybean producers can make to help lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil," Bredehoeft said. "Through the use of homegrown resources like soybeans to produce alternative fuels, we also create jobs, strengthen the U.S. economy and contribute to a cleaner environment."

President Bush has stated that he is looking to farmers to help the United States become less dependent on foreign oil. The President is pressing Congress to pass an energy bill, including a renewable fuels standard that would help increase the use of fuels like biodiesel.

"Maximizing the production and use of renewable fuels such as biodiesel makes good sense as this country deals with rising crude oil and gasoline prices," Bredehoeft said. "U.S. soybean growers and the biodiesel industry are ready to make a significant and vital contribution to our nation’s energy supply."

ASA and its members have helped make biodiesel the fastest growing alternative fuel in the nation. The work of ASA leaders and members was directly responsible for landmark passage of a biodiesel tax incentive by Congress last fall. Signed by the President, the measure went into effect Jan. 1, 2005, and is expected to increase biodiesel demand from the 2004 figure of 30 million gallons to at least 124 million gallons per year over the next 10 years. ASA is now working to get the biodiesel tax incentive extended beyond its current two-year time, which ends Dec. 31, 2006.