By Matthew Wilde, 2018 First Place Economics and Management Category Winner
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of the “Story Behind the Story” series featuring first place 2018 AAEA Communication award winners. Click here to read the full series.
Biodiesel is one of the soybean industry’s biggest value-added success stories, and there may not be a bigger proponent and user than the Big Apple.
When the opportunity exists to inform farmers about how soybean checkoff investments help increases soy prices by 63 cents per bushel and save up to $25 per ton on feed costs — studies prove both claims — it’s a must-tell story. And, New York City is coming through when farmers need it the most.
As senior writer for the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), I covered the National Biodiesel Board’s (NBB) annual Big Apple Tour in December 2017. The three-day event highlighted current and future biodiesel and BioHeat® use in the nation’s largest city. Checkoff funding has and continues to promote use of biofuels to power vehicles, heat buildings and help the environment in New York City.
The three-part series included:
- The continued rise of biodiesel and BioHeat use in New York City and why city leaders lobbied Congress for a more robust Renewable Fuels Standard.
- Why firefighters and emergency responders rely on biodiesel to protect the public and save money.
- Educating the next generation of heating technicians about the renewable fuel.
The series was published in the March 2018 edition of the Iowa Soybean Review magazine and ISA communication channels.
NBB officials are excellent to work with and sources were eager to share their experiences utilizing biodiesel, and the largest feedstock just happens to be soybean oil. My challenge was finding different and interesting angles to tell the story, since I’ve covered the tour once before.
Sometimes in journalism, a unique angle will fall into your lap. While in New York City, a person detonated a bomb in a subway station and Port Authority Bus Terminal passageway near Times Square. Fire trucks and ambulances powered by biodiesel rushed to the scene. I was able to relate the trust emergency responders have in the biofuel to trust on the farm since some producers are still leery of using it for various reasons.
The series was well received by the biofuels industry and farmers based on feedback, but the “Biodiesel: It’s a Matter of Trust” story really hit home. Hopefully, it showed biodiesel is a reliable product that can be used year-round, whether in a truck or tractor.
Every story is a learning experience, regardless if I’m well versed on the subject or not. If I can take away new ideas, concepts, etc. while conducting interviews, I can relay that information to the reader to help them learn as well.