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Groups launch Ag Bioeconomy Coalition

A new coalition of agricultural groups is working to advance federal policy initiatives that support a circular economy based on products derived from ag commodities.  

Ariel Wiegard, director of governmental affairs with the American Soybean Association, says the Ag Bioeconomy Coalition was launched with the 2023 Farm Bill in mind.

“We feel like now is really the right moment in time to promote the ag bioeconomy to Congress, but also to the public and other stakeholders around the ag community because there is such a strong emphasis right now on climate and sustainability in agriculture and biobased goods really deliver there both through the products themselves, where ag feedstocks like soy, corn, and hemp can displace the use of petrochemical but also in how we grow the feedstocks, which themselves capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” she says. “There is a really great opportunity right now and in our work in the farm bill next year to boost the ag bioeconomy and we thought that it was the right time to pull together all of the stakeholders in a coalition because it’s a situation where a rising tide lifts all boats, and we think we can all help each other and boost that ag bioeconomy together as a team.”

Audio: Ariel Wiegard

Jessica Bowman, executive director of the Plant Based Products Council, says objectives of the coalition include “supporting government initiatives and advocating for opportunities that can help foster growth of the broader ag bioeconomy so we can really help realize the benefits that the ag bioeconomy has the potential to provide.”  

Audio: Jessica Bowman

In addition to ASA and PBPC, founding coalition members include American Farm Bureau Federation, Corn Refiners Association, Growth Energy, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Corn Growers Association, and National Hemp Association.

The domestic biobased products industry adds more than $470 billion to the US economy and supports 4.6 million jobs. The USDA estimates that the use of biobased products reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 12.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year.  

Wiegard says one of the policy objectives of the coalition is to promote existing programs, like the USDA BioPreferred Program, that help develop and expand the bioeconomy. Other objectives include clarifying terminology and promoting ways the government can support bioeconomy research and development.

Bowman says there has been positive feedback from Capitol Hill.

“Across the aisle and both the House and Senate, there’s broad interest,” she says. “Seeing the opportunities from both an environmental standpoint that the ag bioeconomy can provide along with those quality, good-paying jobs, and opportunity to really support rural economic development. There’s a little something for everyone when we talk about the opportunities of the ag bioeconomy.”

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  • As former director of the BioPreferred Program and now a consultant to the program I am gratified to see this organized support for the program and the bioeconomy. Biobased products can play a major role as we begin to reduce green house gases and provide sustainable feedstocks for industrial use.

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