On average, the United States produces about 3.4 million bushels of soybeans per year with an average of 44 bushels per acre. One bushel of soybeans can yield 1.5 gallons of bio diesel. Based on current productions the United States has the ability to produce 1.8 billion gallons of biodiesel per year.
The vast majority of the soybeans grown around the world, about 85%, are feed grade - not for human consumption. Feed soybeans are crushed and separated into about 80 percent protein, 19 percent oil, and 1-2 percent fiber. Livestock producers do not want the oil that is naturally in the soybeans, because their animals do not use or absorb the oil. The livestock producers prefer to receive the straight protein and mix it with cornstarch for an energy source.
The additional value of selling the soybean oil for biodiesel, allows the protein price to stay low, covering farmers costs. Livestock producers understand these economics so they are supportive of biodiesel. This is in contrast to corn, where an entire corn kernel can be fed to an animal, so any use of corn for other purposes is direct competition and upward pressure on the price.