Two months ago, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report containing some intriguing findings, to say the least. Entitled "An Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry," this report offered tangible evidence that biobased industries and products actually do have a substantial, positive effect on the economy.
The reduced environmental impact of biobased products has been often discussed, with the latest estimates now saying that the use of biobased products currently displaces about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year— equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. The present report, however, studied the economic impact of these products —and this has been shown to be far from trivial. "This report is the first to examine and quantify the effect of the U.S. biobased products industry from an economics and jobs perspective. Before, we could only speculate at the incredible economic impact of the biobased products industry. Now, we know that in 2013 alone, America's biobased industry contributed four million jobs and $369 billion to our economy," said Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack when the report was released.
The USDA has pioneered the way in this development, with the Farm Bill that was first adopted in 2002 and reauthorized in 2014, the results of which are documented in the present report. That Bill, and in particular the preferential purchasing requirement it contained, has been highly successful in opening the marketplace to new biobased products and renewable chemicals.