Used cooking oil has been in the headlines lately on an almost daily frequency and has become the latest catch phrase of ag market analysts and biofuel industry experts alike. But what exactly is used cooking oil, and why is everyone talking about it?

The first part is relatively easy to answer. If you’ve ever deep-fried chicken wings, or a turkey, or anything else, you’re likely familiar with the different kinds of cooking oil you can buy at the grocery store. Restaurants around the world also use this same oil but in much larger quantities and, subsequently, have a lot more of it to dispose of. For China, a country home to roughly 12.6 million restaurants (compared to roughly 700,000 in the U.S.), a solution was needed to dispose of all this used oil. A newly booming renewable fuel industry in the U.S. was the perfect answer.

And from the U.S. side, where lowering carbon intensity is the name of the game these days, some producers of renewable fuels were happy to have a near-endless supply of what most consider to be the lowest carbon intensity feedstock in the world available to them.

However, it is important to note that the renewable fuels industry and the U.S. ag industry aren't the same thing, and soybean farmers around the country aren't happy that all this used cooking oil is taking demand share from soybean oil, which comes from...