U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced new initiatives in the 2012 Farm Bill to advance Michigan's emerging bio-based manufacturing industry. Bio-based manufacturing, using agriculture goods instead of petroleum-based plastics and other materials in manufactured goods, is an industry poised to grow and create jobs in Michigan. The new bipartisan Farm Bill that Senator Stabenow authored, which recently passed the Senate Agriculture Committee, includes her new Grow It Here, Make It Here initiatives to increase access to capital for bio-based manufacturers, improve marketing of bio-based products, and spur the commercialization of new agricultural innovations to create new jobs.
Senator Stabenow and Michigan business leaders made the announcement at a news conference on Mackinac Island, where she was joined by Stephen Rapundalo, President and CEO of MichBio, Pete Pellerito, Senior Consultant for State Economic Development at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and Marcos Dantus, co-founder of KTM Industries. MichBio is the official Michigan affiliate of the national BIO, which provides advocacy, business development, and communications services for biotechnology companies. KTM Industries, located in Lansing, is a bio-based manufacturing company that produces biodegradable foam products, coolers, and packing materials. Senator Stabenow visited KTM Industries earlier this year.
Michigan innovators and entrepreneurs are processing Michigan-grown crops such as wheat, sugar, corn and soy for use in advanced manufactured goods across the state. From car parts to cleaning products, soaps, insulation, plastics, foam goods, and fabrics, bio-based products are finding their way into a wide variety of sectors in our economy. Using American-grown bio-based products displaces foreign petroleum, reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
Senator Stabenow said, "When we grow things here and make things here, we create jobs here in Michigan. We are at the forefront of bio-based manufacturing, and the initiatives in the new Farm Bill will help businesses who want to invest and create new jobs here in Michigan."
Stephen Rapundalo, President and CEO of MichBio said, "The biosciences industry is integral to the economic vitality of Michigan. Senator Stabenow understands this, which is why the Farm Bill she authored helps grow bio-manufacturing and other sectors of the bio-economy. MichBio and the state's bioscience companies appreciate her continued work on this important issue."
Pete Pellerito, Senior Policy Consultant for State Economic Development at BIO said, "The new bipartisan Farm Bill includes important support for bio-based manufacturing. Senator Stabenow recognizes the importance of bio-based manufacturing as a job creator. I want to thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership in spurring innovation and growth in this emerging industry."
Marcos Dantus, co-founder of KTM Industries said, "Michigan has geographic advantages over other states in terms of diverse feedstocks, vast agricultural supply chains and bio research facilities. Michigan has the ability to shape its own future and has significant opportunities to expand its bio-based industry and advance its position in the global bio-manufacturing market. I want to thank Senator Stabenow for her commitment to growing Michigan's bio-based economy and creating new jobs."
Senator Stabenow's Grow It Here, Make It Here initiatives in the 2012 Farm Bill:
Strengthen the Biopreferred Program, which certifies and labels products so consumers can choose to purchase goods made of agriculture materials, and provides a preference for these products for government purchases. Her initiative also calls for greater accountability in the initiative, including auditing and compliance activities to ensure the integrity of the certified label. USDA's Biopreferred Program offers over 8,900 bio-based products, including 540 products made by 90 Michigan companies.
Spur the commercialization of new agricultural innovations by streamlining and focusing resources to help new bio-based projects move from the development to the commercialization phase, also known as the "valley of death" since far too many good ideas do not make it out of this phase. Her initiative focuses the USDA's Biomass Research and Development Initiative on the commercialization of bio-based products-bridging this gap to help accelerate the bio-based industry.
Increase access to capital for bio-based manufacturers by expanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Biorefinery Loan Guarantee Program, so bio-based manufacturers have access to loans to help finance new operations or expand existing ones.
Bio-based manufacturing is a key sector of Michigan's agriculture industry, which is Michigan's second largest industry, supporting nearly one out of every four jobs. The initiatives in the 2012 Farm Bill would help this emerging industry expand and grow throughout the state, and the country.