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USDA Report Reveals Bioeconomy Opportunities

BioBased ProductThe US Department of Agriculture released a report Tuesday that synthesizes existing bioeconomy literature and explores how government policies and industry business-to-business sustainability programs are driving the biobased economy.

The report is a prelude to a more comprehensive upcoming economic study to be released by the USDA’s BioPreferred program on the economic impacts of the biobased products industry.

One report cited concludes that biobased chemicals are expected to constitute more than 10 percent of the chemical market by 2015. Another report in the study states there is potential to produce two-thirds of the total volume of chemicals from biobased materials, which represents over 50,000 products and a $1 trillion annual global market.

The BioPreferred economic study of biobased products and economic impacts will include research on job creation and economic value. It will be the first federally sponsored economic report targeting the biobased products industry in the US.

The BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill. Proposals for the labeling program were detailed in summer 2009, and the official label debuted in 2011. A lack of funding briefly stopped the processing of label applications at the end of 2012, but funding was restored in mid-2013.

The voluntary label was designed to promote the broad-scale marketing of biobased products to consumers. As of September 2014, the USDA had certified over 1,940 biobased products in more than 97 product categories for the label.

According to agricultural secretary Thomas Vilsack, the new report presents the opportunities US agriculture and forests have in the emerging bioeconomy, and brings together two of the most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.

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