(CN) – In a move expected to increase overseas exports, the European Union approved the use of U.S. soybeans Tuesday in the production of biofuel.
The United States is already Europe’s main soya beans supplier, according to a statement this morning from the European Union. To qualify for public support or to count toward the EU’s renewable-energy targets, however, EU biofuels must meet certain sustainability criteria laid out in the Renewable Energy Directive.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, had agreed to increase soy-bean trade with the United States after a meeting with President Donald Trump in July 2018.
“As far as agriculture is concerned, the European Union can import more soybeans from the U.S. and it will be done,” the Brussels-based Juncker said last year following his White House visit.
Specifically today the European Commission signed off on the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol, which dictates best environmental practices for U.S. soybean producers.
The approval lasts through 2021, giving U.S. soy bean producers time to implement further environmental improvements.
Beyond 2021, however, the EU must meet new sustainability criteria in line with a revised Renewable Energy Directive that will be in force through 2030.
Should U.S. soybean producers meet those requirements as well, the European Commission’s recognition can be extended.
U.S. authorities are required to notify the European Union of any changes it aims to apply to the certification procedures, and the commission may repeal approval if the scheme is not correctly implemented, if the U.S. fails to submit annual reports or if it does not introduce future improvements that may arise.
“U.S. farmers have long prided themselves on adopting newer and better methods for producing high-quality soybeans that are grown responsibly and sustainability,” said Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association. “The SSAP (Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol) sets a high standard that demonstrates that commitment, and we are pleased that the EU Commission has recognized our efforts by opening the door for SSAP-certified soybeans to be used in EU biodiesel.”
Wendy Brannen, a spokeswoman for the trade group, touted the deal as well.
“While this announcement applies only to soybeans exported for biodiesel, ASA sees it as a positive step for enhancing its EU market and validating the quality of the SSAP sustainability initiative,” Brannen said in a statement.