Photo by Roger W Winstead
In the 2002 Farm Bill, the USDA created the BioPreferred program which was later expanded upon under the 2014 Farm Bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products. These products are used as an alternative to petroleum-based products commonly found in office products, personal care products, and construction material. The intent of the program was to reduce our country’s reliance on petroleum while spurring economic development, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farm commodities.
Until recently there had been no quantifiable evidence of the impact the biobased industry was having on the U.S. economy. A report just released by Dr. Robert Handfield, Professor of Supply Chain Management at NC State University’s Poole College of Management and Dr. Jay Golden, Director of Duke University’s Center for Sustainability & Commerce now shows just how economically beneficial the program has been.
From Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:
“This report is the first to examine and quantify the effect of the U.S. biobased products industry from an economics and jobs perspective. Before, we could only speculate at the incredible economic impact of the biobased products industry. Now, we know that in 2013 alone, America’s biobased industry contributed four million jobs and $369 billion to our economy,” Vilsack said. “Today, we are also adding to the number of innovative products carrying USDA’s BioPreferred® label and expanding options for our nation’s biorefineries. This means small businesses and global companies alike can continue to harness the power of America’s farms and forests to create new and innovative biobased products that are used all around the world.”