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Now is the Time to Seize Bioeconomy Opportunities in Farm Bill

July 26, 2023
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The next farm bill offers opportunities to invest in long-term food security, climate resiliency and growing the nation’s burgeoning bioeconomy, according to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, which has submitted recommendations to the House and Senate agriculture committees as they work to write a new farm bill.

“A farm bill centered on innovation stands to incentivize the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and practices, resulting in benefits to the environment and rural economies,” said Beth Ellikidis, BIO’s vice president of agriculture and environment. “Supporting biobased technologies and biobased manufacturing is crucial to agriculture being part of the solution to protecting our climate and fostering energy security.”

Specific recommendations in BIO’s statement include the following:

  • Biobased Markets Program—The time is critical, when there is so much innovation and development of biobased products, to increase funding for the Biobased Markets or BioPreferred program, which directs federal agencies to increase purchases of biobased and renewable products. The program has not had a funding increase since it began in the 2002 farm bill.
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)—The farm bill can help to increase use of biobased products by clearly defining them in the NAICS. BIO urges the committees to work with USDA and the Office of Management and Budget to update NAICS codes for renewable chemical manufacturers and producers of biobased products, so that federal agencies can accurately classify and report on procurement of biobased products.
  • Biorefinery Incentives—The federal program to help build or retrofit facilities to produce advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and other biobased products could be tremendously impactful as demand for these products continues to grow. Congress should increase funding and make administrative improvements to the program, including adding sustainable aviation fuel to the Energy Title definitions.
  • Support for Biostimulants—Inclusion of The Plant Biostimulant Act (H.R. 1472, S. 802) which streamlines regulation of these safe, biological substances that make plants more resilient and productive, should be adopted as part of the 2023 farm bill.
  • Plant Incorporated Protectants (PIPs)—Congress can maintain the United States’ leadership in agricultural innovation by directing EPA to reissue PIPs regulations and eliminate unnecessary and non-science-based barriers to market.
  • Measuring Greenhouse Gas Reductions—The farm bill should direct EPA to utilize USDA’s expertise on innovative agricultural technologies in developing lifecycle greenhouse gas models and measurement tools.
  • Streamlined Regulation of Biotech—The farm bill should support a more efficient, science-based regulatory process that allows for timely approval of innovations to make plants, animals and microbes healthier and more productive.

The bioeconomy is poised for enormous growth, according to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Already, the economic impact of the U.S. bioeconomy is estimated to be $959 billion, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

“Congress can make a real, positive impact at a critical time for biotechnology and biomanufacturing,” added Ellikidis. “They have a tremendous opportunity in just one bill—the 2023 farm bill—to advance several priority goals. We urge members of Congress to return from the August district work period ready to enact a farm bill that invests in a vibrant and growing U.S. bioeconomy.”

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