Steve Rober, national sales manager for Schaeffer Oil, demonstrates the cleaning properties of one of the company’s products, SoyShield. Schaeffer was one of several stops in St. Louis by farmers participating in the United Soybean Board’s See for Yourself program.
Steve Rober, national sales manager for Schaeffer Oil, demonstrates the cleaning properties of one of the company’s products, SoyShield. Schaeffer was one of several stops in St. Louis by farmers participating in the United Soybean Board’s See for Yourself program.
ST. LOUIS — The average soybean farmer may not be familiar with Schaeffer Oil, but they may owe a bit of their profit to the St. Louis company.

Steve Rober, Schaeffer Oil national sales manager, told the story to farmers participating in the United Soybean Board’s See for Yourself program. Each year, the USB, the board that directs funds from the checkoff program, invites 10 farmers on a tour of soybean-related sites.

This year, the group visited several places in St. Louis before leaving for Colombia to tour a feed manufacturer and to visit the Panama Canal.

Among other products, Schaeffer produces a diesel fuel additive designed to make engines run more efficiently. An ad in a trade publication touting the product — SoyShield — caught the eye of someone at the National Biodiesel Board.

Rober told the group that the biodiesel board was working on receiving federal tax incentives for biodiesel, which was much more expensive than petroleum diesel. The board wanted to go after the trucking market, but officials at Schaeffer recommended instead that the product be marketed to farmers.

“We took a product that was 50 percent petroleum, and we substituted biodiesel into that product and made the first biodiesel-based fuel additive in the country,” Rober said.

“The National Biodiesel Board used checkoff dollars to fund research and development of this. They did the research and got all the data to make claims that were verified by science.”

Once a market was found, Congress took notice and passed legislation providing subsidies for biodiesel based on its sustainability.

“So in a small way, we played a significant role in getting biodiesel approved in Congress,” Rober said. “Biodiesel was a dollar more a gallon than regular diesel. And I don’t care if you are a farmer; you’re not going to pay a dollar a gallon more, even if it is your own product. A big reason prices are so high today is due to United Soybean Board and National Biodiesel Board’s efforts.”

Schaeffer is recognized as Missouri’s oldest family-owned company, dating back 175 years, when it was begun by a German immigrant who developed a successful business manufacturing and shipping candle wax. Its original office was on the site that now is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which includes the Gateway Arch.

The USB group also toured Lambert St. Louis International Airport. All vehicles with diesel engines use biodiesel as part of the airport’s sustainability efforts. They include fire trucks, snow-removal machines and transport vehicles.

The airport began using alternative fuels in its fleet in 1988. Some vehicles are fitted to operate on compressed natural gas.