While Congress continues to discuss a new Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted a webinar on the department’s BioPreferred program and on the emerging market for bio-based products.

The goal of the BioPreferred program is to develop and expand markets for American-made bio-based products, such as cleaning products and various industrial chemicals made from biological and renewable agricultural materials.

However, without a current Farm Bill, the program’s future is in limbo.

“Due to the absence of funding in the Farm Bill extension legislation, USDA has had to suspend the processing of applications for voluntary certification of bio-based products,” stated a Department of Agriculture release.

Congress created the BioPreferred program through the 2002 Farm Bill and renewed the program in the 2008 Farm Bill.

The discussion was moderated by Kate Lewis, the deputy program manager for BioPreferred, and featured panelists from a handful of bio-product companies including Seventh Generation and Verdezyne.

“By using agricultural feed stocks to make everyday finished products like bio-lubricants, bio-plastics, construction materials and cleaners these products, we add value to the agricultural industry and up and down supply chains,” stated Lewis in a description of the event. “That is, jobs are not created just on the farm or near the farm gate, but throughout the manufacturing process on sales of these bio-based products.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, there are currently about 100 categories of bio-based products that feature about 10,000 individual products.

One of the topics discussed in the webinar was the differences between U.S. investment in bio-based products and European investment in bio-based products.

Several European businesses recently entered into a public-private partnership, the “Bridge 2020 program,” to invest in new and sustainable ways to organize the European economy by focusing on bio-products.

Public and private sources have invested more than $4 billion Euros in the program, slightly more than $5.5 billion U.S. dollars.

A report on the Bridge 2020 program states: “Our vision is that of a competitive, innovative and sustainable Europe: leading the transition towards a post-petroleum society while decoupling economic growth from resource depletion and environmental impact.”

To read more about bio-based products and the Farm Bill, follow the conversation at #MyFarmBill on Twitter.

Watch the Department of Agriculture webinar below.

YouTube video

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