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Feedstuffs magazine reports:

A new farm bill-mandated report shows the U.S. biobased products industry contributes $369 billion in economic value and 4 million jobs through direct, indirect, and induced contributions.

The report is focused on biobased products and does not include biobased fuels or other energy sources except when analyzing co-products.

The 1.5 million direct jobs directly supporting the biobased industry resulted in the formation of 1.1 million indirect jobs in related industries and another 1.4 million induced jobs produced from the purchase of goods and services generated by the direct and indirect jobs. Similarly, the $126 billion in direct sales by the biobased products industry generated another $126 billion in indirect sales and $117 billion in induced sales.
"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," secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack said. The report builds at an October 2014 report "Why Biobased?".

According to the new report, each job in the biobased products industry is responsible for generating 1.64 jobs in other sectors of the economy. In 2013, 1.5 million jobs directly supported the biobased product industry resulting in 1.1 million indirect jobs in related industries, and another 1.4 million induced jobs produced from the purchase of goods and services generated by the direct and indirect jobs.

Primary report authors are Director of Duke University's Center for Sustainability & Commerce Jay Golden and Professor of Supply Chain Management Robert Handfield of at North Carolina State University's Poole College of Management.

The report found that the seven major overarching sectors that represent the U.S. biobased products industry's contribution to the U.S. economy are: agriculture and forestry, biorefining, biobased chemicals, enzymes, bioplastic bottles and packaging, forest products, and textiles.

Estimates are that the use of biobased products currently displaces about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year - equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. The report notes that current estimates of the output of biorefineries used in the manufacture of biobased products is about 150 million gallons per year. The second type of petroleum displacement is through increased use of natural biobased materials as substitutes for synthetic (petroleum-based) materials. This second type of displacement is estimated at roughly equal to the 150 million gallons per year estimated for direct replacement.

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Vilsack also said USDA is also adding to the number of innovative products carrying USDA's BioPreferredĀ® 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."

The final BioPreferredĀ® program rules will no longer exclude mature market products (those that had a significant market share prior to 1972), providing consumers with more innovative wood products and other materials carrying USDA BioPreferred label. Forest products that meet biobased content requirements, notwithstanding the market share the product holds, the age of the product, or whether the market for the product is new or emerging, also now meet the definition of "biobased product."

The Secretary also said that USDA is making improvements to its Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003). The program, which was renamed as the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program as part of the program's Farm Bill reauthorization, provides loan guarantees of up to $250 million for the construction and retrofitting of commercial scale biorefineries and biobased product manufacturing facilities.

In a rule that will be published in the Federal Register next week, biorefineries that receive funding are allowed to produce more renewable chemicals and other biobased products, and not primarily advanced biofuels. Also, biobased product manufacturing facilities would be eligible to convert renewable chemicals and other biobased outputs of biorefineries into "end-user" products. The new regulations also implement a streamlined application process.

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