The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved using sorghum oil as a feedstock for the production of advanced biofuel and biodiesel products under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the decision on 24 July after a meeting between the EPA, sorghum industry leaders and US senators and congressmen, reported DTN – The Progressive Farmer on the day.

The EPA initially proposed approving sorghum last December, when it released an assessment proposal stating that using distillers sorghum oil as a biofuel product could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 82% compared to fossil diesel, qualifying it as an advanced biofuel.

US sorghum producers association National Sorghum Producers (NSP) had been pushing for more than two years to get sorghum qualified under the RFS.

Producers said the decision would motivate more farmers to plant sorghum, which was a less water intensive crop than, for example, corn.

“This pathway for sorghum oil reaches far beyond the farmer. This is an avenue for creating jobs in rural America we so desperately need, and it helps provide energy security from a renewable water-conserving source,” said NSP board director and Conestoga Energy CEO Tom Willis.

EPA also noted that distillers sorghum oil was at the moment a niche product with the potential to produce 12M-21M gallons (45.4M-79.5M litres) of biofuels annually.

Nine ethanol plants in the US were already extracting oil from sorghum, wrote DTN – The Progressive Farmer.