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Presidential Memo Expands Purchases of Biobased Products and Creates Jobs

February 24, 2012
This week President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum that challenges the federal government to substantially increase purchases of biobased products over the next two years, driving new job growth and innovation.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) already designates 64 categories of biobased products for federal procurement and this memorandum asks Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to increase the number of both designated categories of and individual biobased products eligible for preferred purchasing by 50 percent within one year.

BIO applauded the president’s directive to strengthen and expand the USDA BioPreferred program. “Biobased products meet consumer demand for items that are affordable and healthier for the environment,” said BIO President & CEO Jim Greenwood. “The United States is well positioned to use its leadership in biotechnology, agricultural productivity and manufacturing innovation to build a biobased economy.”

The memorandum includes provisions to establish a web-based registration system for biobased products, increase reporting of biobased product purchases and implement solutions to increase the visibility of biobased products and the BioPreferred program.

The biobased product industry already employs more than 50,000 people in the United States and will continue to create tens of thousands of jobs across the country in the coming years. The memorandum also asks Vilsak to prepare a report on job creation and the economic impact associated with the biobased product industry.

This directive was one part of three significant actions announced by the president based on recommendations from the White House Rural Council. The other initiatives include promoting regional rural job creation efforts and developing a rural healthcare workforce.

"My Administration is committed to using every tool available to promote economic growth and create good jobs in rural America," said President Obama. "Today's announcements reflect our continued focus on expanding opportunity for rural Americans and all Americans, including supporting new and innovative businesses, and improving rural health care and education.”

The president’s announcement came right on the heels of Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) new “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative to advance the emerging bio-based manufacturing industry. It encourages strengthening the USDA Biopreferred program and spurring commercialization of new agricultural innovations to help create new jobs in the United States. The new “Grow I Here, Make it Here” initiatives would increase access to capital for bio-based manufacturers and improve marketing of bio-based products as well.

BIO supports the President’s directive and Stabenow’s proposed legislation. “Expanding biobased production can also reduce our reliance on foreign oil and generate new jobs in manufacturing, agricultural production and forestry,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “Policies that provide technology neutral support to biobased products and renewable chemicals, such as the BioPreferred program, can help the industry continue its progress.”