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Bio-based growth offers new potential for rural prosperityBio-based growth offers new potential for rural prosperity

USDA report indicates great potential for additional prosperity from future growth in renewable chemicals and bio-based products.

Jacqui Fatka

March 28, 2018

2 Min Read
Bio-based growth offers new potential for rural prosperity
United Soybean Board

The bio-based economy is playing an increasingly important role in the American economy. Through innovations in renewable energies and the emergence of a new generation of bio-based products, the sectors that drive the bio-based economy are providing job creation and economic growth, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist.

The report measured substantial economic growth, job creation and household income for the agriculture sector from biofuel and bioenergy production. Moreover, it indicates great potential for additional prosperity from future growth in renewable chemicals and bio-based products.

The number of renewable chemicals and bio-based products that are USDA “certified” as BioPreferred has increased rapidly, from 1,800 in 2014 to 2,900 in 2016.

It is estimated that the overall number of bio-based products in the U.S. marketplace was greater than 40,000 in 2014, up from 17,000 in 2008. The number of jobs contributed to the U.S. economy by the domestic bio-based product industry in 2014 was 4.22 million, while the value-added contribution to the U.S. economy was $393 billion.

Ethanol production in the U.S. surpassed 14.7 billion gal. in 2015, compared to just 175 million gal. in 1980. The number of ethanol plants continues to see modest growth, increasing to 199 plants in 2016 with three new facilities under construction. This accounts for more than 270,000 American jobs. Biodiesel production reached 1.26 billion gal. in 2015, compared to 343 million gal. in 2010.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization's (BIO) Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “The bio-based economy is approaching a tipping point in its growth and maturation. The economic impact is evident. BIO calculates that the global economic value of the bio-based economy – including industrial biotechnology, renewable chemicals and polymers, biofuels, enzymes and bio-based materials – is $355.28 billion. Looking at the new USDA indicators report and other sources, we estimate that the United States generates 58% of the global value of bio-based manufacturing, or more than $205 billion, and that economic activity supports employment for 1.66 million U.S. workers."

Erickson added, “The growth of the bio-based economy has been supported by good federal policy that strengthens the agricultural sector and rural America. For instance, farm bill energy title programs have compiled a record of success that deserves to be continued. We look forward to working with USDA and Congress to build on that success and reauthorize the programs.”

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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