On August 22, 2011, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack toured MBI International, a bio-manufacturing research facility located in Lansing, Michigan, as part of the government’s efforts to support the creation and production of biobased products in order to create jobs, add value to agricultural commodities, and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. He was joined by Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
“Biobased products are not only good for the environment, they’re creating jobs here in Michigan and across the country,” said Secretary Vilsack. “In Michigan alone, dozens of companies are producing a wide range of new items. Nationwide, this rapidly-growing initiative is already responsible for an estimated 100,000 jobs.”
Secretary Vilsack noted that MBI is focused on developing ways to produce chemicals and materials from biobased feedstocks. In January, USDA announced the USDA Certified Biobased Product voluntary labeling program so customers know when they are buying a biobased product. To date, 500 products nationwide have been certified under the program including 19 in Michigan.
Additionally, the USDA is working with other agencies to increase federal purchases of biobased products designated by the Biopreferred program. To date, USDA has designated over 8,900 individual products that qualify for preferred Federal purchase, including 540 products made by 90 Michigan companies. Both the label and the Federal preference program identify biobased products composed wholly or significantly of agricultural ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The new label indicates the product has been independently certified to meet USDA standards for biobased content.
Secretary Vilsack’s trip to Michigan is part of the Administration’s continued efforts to highlight coordinated efforts to spark job creation and sustainable economic development. Last week the Secretary announced an agreement among USDA, the Department of Energy, and the Navy to promote the development and manufacture of next-generation “drop-in” biofuels for military and civilian use.
The Secretary also chairs the White House Rural Council, which is working to improve economic conditions and create jobs. Late last week he announced the signing of an agreement with the Council on Foundations to better coordinate public and private development efforts to bring new capital and investment to rural communities.
USDA’s BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products within the Federal government and the commercial market. Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 Farm Bill to further promote the sale of biobased products. With the launch of this new biobased product label, USDA’s BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a biobased product procurement preference program for Federal agencies, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products.
Biobased products help add value to commodities, create jobs in rural communities, increase U.S. energy independence by reducing the use of petroleum in manufactured products and may also reduce the introduction of fossil carbon into the atmosphere, thus mitigating potential climate change impacts. To learn more, please visit www.biopreferred.gov.