REDWOOD FALLS — Minnesota's biodiesel blend standard will increase from 10 percent to 20 percent next May.

State commissioners announced the change during Minnesota Farmfest in Redwood Falls on Thursday. Supporters say the new standard will help increase the value of farmers' products, create new jobs and improve air quality.

Gov. Mark Dayton originally planned to make the announcement, but canceled his Farmfest trip due to illness.

In 2005, Minnesota was the first state in the country to mandate a 2 percent biodiesel blend (B2) in diesel fuel.

Thursday's announcement makes Minnesota the first in the nation to mandate a B20 standard, Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said.

Homegrown soybeans make up a large portion of the state's biodiesel. Minnesota's biodiesel industry contributes more than $1.7 billion each year to the economy.

The state biodiesel industry adds roughly 63 cents to the market rate of farmer soybean bushels. Frederickson said he hopes the new standard will double that.

"We're excited about the opportunity to give farmers an opportunity to see more income in their pocket, which they definitely need today," he said.

Michael Petefish, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association president, said the increased standard will also bring more jobs to the industry.

"It's estimated 5,400 jobs are involved in the production and use of biodiesel," Petefish said.

According to the American Lung Association in Minnesota, biodiesel use considerably decreases tailpipe emissions. The implementation of B20 next year is expected to cut 1 million tons of carbon dioxide and 130 tons of particulate emissions.

"It's a good move for our health and for our environment as well," said Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine.

B20 will be sold at filling stations in Minnesota next summer, before dropping back down to B5 — a 5 percent biodiesel blend — in October for cold-weather reliability.

B20 will be available from April through September each year starting in 2019.

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Intern / Freelancer

Ryan was a 2017 summer editorial intern for the Post Bulletin covering general assignment stories. He is currently a senior majoring in journalism at the University of Minnesota and writes the PB's weekly Greenspace column.