WASHINGTON — On July 19, leading industry associations launched the Ag Bioeconomy Coalition to advance federal policy initiatives that foster growth toward a circular economy based on innovative products derived from agricultural commodities. Encompassing a broad range of technologies, the ag bioeconomy uses renewable, biobased materials as inputs to make chemicals and products such as fuels, manufacturing materials, and consumer goods. The industry presents an opportunity to tap into the full potential of the American agriculture sector, support supply chain resiliency, and help address key environmental issues.
Founding Coalition members include: American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF); American Soybean Association (ASA); Corn Refiners Association (CRA); Growth Energy; National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA); National Corn Growers Association (NCGA); National Hemp Association; and Plant Based Products Council (PBPC).
“Advancing the bioeconomy is one of the most meaningful climate solutions on the table today,” says PBPC Executive Director Jessica Bowman. “The plant-based products industry presents an opportunity to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels by using renewable inputs for a variety of consumer goods, including disposable foodservice ware, household cleaners, and construction materials. What’s more, this industry is meeting consumer demand for climate solutions in a way that is accessible and does not upend our current supply chain infrastructure.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the use of biobased products reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year – that is equivalent to taking over 2.7 million cars off the road for a year.
“Innovations in agriculture are critical for combatting climate change, helping create green jobs, and providing Americans with healthy, affordable food and renewable materials for a variety of high value products,” says Senator Tina Smith (MN-D), member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. “Investing in the ag bioeconomy will increase sustainability and help us turn renewable resources like hemp, soy and corn into value-added goods, such as bioenergy, chemicals and consumer products. This is good for our environment and will drive greater rural economic development. I look forward to working alongside the Ag Bioeconomy Coalition to strengthen the U.S. bioeconomy.”
“It is well known that America’s abundant supply of soybeans helps feed our country and the world; lesser known is that U.S. companies also offer about 1,000 soy biobased industrial and consumer products,” said Brad Doyle, president of the American Soybean Association. “These sustainable, job- creating, soy-based products are the result of tremendous private sector investment and research, but more can still be done to help the renewable economy really take off. We are proud to help launch the new Ag Bioeconomy Coalition to advocate for creation of new market opportunities for soybean growers that will also meet society’s economic and environmental needs.”
The domestic biobased products industry adds over $470 billion of value to the US economy and supports 4.6 million jobs. Between 2013 and 2017, the industry expanded more than 27% in terms of value added; in 2021, nearly half of Americans report purchasing plant-based products monthly.
“Over the past decade, a torrent of innovation in the biofuel sector has placed us at the leading edge of the bioeconomy, offering transformative solutions to consumers around the world,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “By harnessing the power of life sciences, we’re removing fossil fuels from the equation for both cars and emissions-heavy industries that are more difficult to decarbonize. That work allows biofuel producers to support green jobs across rural America, including an outsized share of jobs for union workers and American veterans.”
“Investments in the ag bioeconomy is something that every American, business leader, and policymaker can get behind,” says CRA President & CEO John Bode. “Growth in this industry drives economic opportunity and high-quality STEM jobs in rural communities, helps large corporations and small businesses achieve climate goals, and positions American farmers as part of the solution to our collective climate challenges.”
For every biobased job created, 2.79 additional jobs are generated in other sectors of the U.S. economy. Between 2013 and 2017, 1.65 million jobs directly supported the biobased product industry, resulting in 2.96 million spillover jobs. Spillover jobs mean they were created in related industries to support the purchase of goods and services from the biobased products industry.
“In Iowa, biofuels are a critical economic engine for our farmers, rural communities, and our homegrown energy producers,” said U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA 04). “The new Agriculture Bioeconomy Coalition will serve as an important voice for bio-based products – like biofuels – which create good- paying jobs, protect our environment, and expand domestic energy production. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to expand the development and use of biofuels and other bio-based materials to power our economy and make our country energy independent again.”
“The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture works to ensure U.S. agriculture paves the way toward a healthy and resilient world. NASDA believes supporting the agriculture bioeconomy does just this by opening new markets for farmers and ranchers and preserving natural resources for everyone,” says NASDA CEO Ted McKinney. “We look forward to seeking new ways to promote the growth of biobased products.”
Looking ahead, the Coalition’s policy priorities also include supporting market transparency and visibility initiatives that facilitate common ag bioeconomy nomenclature and measurement. The Coalition is also focused on advocating for policies that promote ways in which government entities can support bioeconomy research and development.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are leading the way when it comes to sustainable innovation, working to reduce our environmental impacts while feeding a growing population. But we can’t do it alone,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Partnerships are needed to help grow the ag bioeconomy, not just from agriculture but from a cross-section of industry, research, government and more. We look forward to exploring solutions that will help farmers and ranchers do more with less as well as grow the rural economy.”
Learn more about the Ag Bioeconomy Coalition at www.nasda.org/agbioeconomycoalition.
— Ag Bioeconomy Coalition