USDA Proposes Farmer Incentives to Amplify Biobased Product Growth

A recent USDA report indicates that the United States has a strong potential to convert its abundant biomass supply into biobased products, provided that improvements are made to supply chains and materials handling, and farmers are incentivized to produce biomass while minimizing risk.

The USDA has unveiled its strategy for enhancing domestic biobased product manufacturing, bolstering supply chain resilience for biomass, and promoting market opportunities for small and mid-sized producers, all while striving to improve the environmental sustainability of biomass supplies.

Biobased products, derived from organic materials such as crop residues, agricultural and food wastes, forest residuals, and livestock, contributed $489 billion to the U.S. economy in 2021, marking a more than 5% increase from the previous year.

Post-harvest or collection, biomass can be utilized to produce a wide array of sustainable goods, including fuel, fibers, electricity, construction materials, plastics, insulation, and personal care items.

Laura Campbell, Senior Conservation and Regulatory Relations Specialist at MFB, notes that Michigan farmers and forest operators, with their diverse range of commodities, are well-positioned to explore additional revenue streams by tapping into organic materials that would otherwise be discarded.

USDA’s plan focuses on three key areas: research, development, and demonstration to innovate biomass supply systems; capacity building to expand existing supply systems; and market development and assessment to align biomass supply with demand for biobased products.

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, sees the increasing demand for biomass as an opportunity to create new revenue streams for American farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners, particularly in rural areas. The plan aims to strengthen production and preprocessing systems, providing incentives for producers and manufacturers to utilize biomass in fueling the American bioeconomy.

Additionally, USDA’s plan involves increasing the utilization of food waste, manure, and farm residuals for biofuels and biobased products, including the extraction of biogas from on-farm methane digesters. To read more on USDA’s plan, click HERE.