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By Jason Simpkins
Soybeans – a key crop used in the creation of certain Biofuels – is nearing record price levels, and may actually hit its second-highest price level ever, according to a Friday report in USA Today.
It would be the highest soybean prices have climbed since 1983, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Driving the price move is the growing use of biodiesel fuel, a renewable alternative to conventional petroleum-based diesel fuel. The use of eco-friendly fuels has increased more than 1,200% in the past three years, an indication of the expanding role that alternative energy is destined to play, especially in the U.S. trucking industry, whose big tractor-trailers run supercharged, diesel engines.
According to the USA Today report, Imperium Renewables in Grays Harbor, WA, opened what may become the nation's largest biodiesel plant. Its production target is 100 million gallons a year. Other plants are planned, as well, pushing production up to approximately 300 million gallons this year, an improvement over the 250 million gallons produced in 2006, according to the national Biodiesel Board.
Soybean prices continue to rise – even as they are being stockpiled at record levels. That's because biodiesel is clean, safe, and doesn't require special engine modifications. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) the nation's No. 1 retailer, and its largest private employer, boasts a fleet of 7,000 trucks and is one of the companies experimenting with the more efficient and less costly fuel. So is beer kingpin Anheuser-Busch Cos. (NYSE: BUD).