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