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USDA announces bioproduct pilot program

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the USDA is accepting applications for a new pilot program created under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the development of biobased products that have lower carbon footprints and increase the use of renewable agricultural materials, creating new revenue streams for farmers. This $10 million investment is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing work to rebuild our infrastructure and create good-paying jobs and economic opportunity in our rural communities.

Secretary Vilsack visited Dan and Debbie’s Creamery, a family-owned operation in Ely, Iowa, and met to discuss what impact this bioproduct pilot program and resulting innovations will have on operations like theirs, as well as the customers they serve. Dan and Debbie’s Creamery farm is about 500 acres with a 120-head dairy operation.

“This pilot program is a critical part of USDA’s commitment to enhancing the circular economy and providing additional revenue streams for farmers,” Vilsack said. “This program will help farmers take field residues and waste products and turn them into value-added products that create wealth and drive economic development in rural areas.”

Under this program, the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) can award up to $10 million divided among the highest rated applications that include eligible universities and private-sector partners.

“The Bioproduct Pilot Program will provide a great opportunity to expand upon what we in the soy family have been doing for years — creating plant-based, sustainable construction materials and consumer goods using U.S.-grown soy,” said Dave Walton, a director with the American Soybean Association. “ASA was glad to work with Senator Rounds and others to support the inclusion of this language in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and we welcome this announcement from USDA.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided funds for sustainable bioproduct manufacturing for construction and consumer products. The statute directs USDA to partner with “not less than one institution” to study the benefits of using materials derived from a very broad definition of “covered agricultural commodities.”

More than 1,000 soy-based products – products ranging from shoes to machinery lubricants to asphalt – that use commodity soybean oil and high oleic soybean oil are now commercially available.

Complete information on this funding opportunity can be found on the NIFA website here. An informational webinar for those interested in applying will be held on July 14, 2022, at 2:00 – 3:30 pm Central Time. To register, please visit the Bioproduct Pilot Program Informational Webinar page.

This project will be implemented by a team of USDA experts from NIFA’s Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment, USDA Rural Development’s BioPreferred Program and the U.S. Forest Service Wood Innovations Team and Forest Products Lab.

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