The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its recently released “U.S.D.A. Agricultural Projections to 2019” forecast domestic soybean oil use to increase modestly but steadily year over year, but it indicated the growth in the next few years will be attributable solely to increased use of soybean oil in the production of biodiesel with food use of soybean oil forecast to decline. Food use of soybean oil was projected to decline in the current year and in 2010-11, hold only steady in 2011-12 and then increase annually thereafter but only to the extent required by a growing population. Food use of soybean oil was forecast to bottom at 14,200 million lbs in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. Food use was not expected to exceed the 2008-09 level of 14,435 million lbs until 2013-14, when food use was forecast at 14,500 million lbs. Food use of soybean oil was expected to reach 15,700 million bus in 2019-20, the last year in the projection period.

With regard to soybean oil use for biodiesel, the U.S.D.A. stated, “Soybean oil used for methyl ester for production of biodiesel grows to 2.9 billion lbs, representing 13% to 15% of total use of soybean oil and supporting the production of close to 400 million gallons of biodiesel. Although some other first-use vegetable oils are used to produce biodiesel, most of the remaining biodiesel production needed to reach the 1-billion-gallon use mandate in the 2007 Energy Act uses animal fats or recycled vegetable oil as the feedstock. The $1-per-gallon blending tax credit for biodiesel is assumed to be in effect over the projection period.” The blending credit has expired, and Congress might not consider its renewal until the spring.