U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today highlighted the potential of bio-based manufacturing as an emerging industry where Michigan is poised to lead and create new jobs. Stabenow held a press conference at the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and Michigan Soybean Association office in Frankenmuth where she was joined by business leaders and soybean growers to showcase the economic potential of bio-based manufacturing- using Michigan-grown goods in Michigan-made products. Bio-based products, including Ford's new Soy-based car seats, were displayed.
Senator Stabenow said: "When we make things and grow things in Michigan, we create jobs here in Michigan. With bio-based manufacturing, companies are using products grown in Michigan to make products here in Michigan. By replacing imported petroleum for plastics, foam car seats, and other materials that we use every day with Michigan-grown crops like soybeans, we will spur new job growth and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Michigan is at the forefront of bio-based manufacturing, and I am fully committed to expanding this new and growing industry to create new jobs."
Keith Reinholt, Field Operation Director for the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee and Michigan Soybean Association said: "As Henry Ford discovered over 75 years ago, products from the processed soybean have many automotive applications. Ford's research is being revisited by non-other than the Ford Motor Company to fulfill his vision of using agricultural crops for industrial applications. Sen. Stabenow is a 21st century visionary by not only recognizing such applications but by being an advocate for the bio-based market development efforts."
Matthew Zaluzec, Ph.D, Global Materials and Manufacturing Research for Ford Motor Company said: "Biomaterials like soy help Ford make cars that are green inside and out. Not only do we offer customers 14 vehicles with the top fuel economy in their class, but we've also incorporated soy foam seats on all our North American cars and trucks, which alone reduces our annual petroleum oil usage by more than 3 million pounds. It's a win for the environment and for Ford, and it's progress like this that is helping us hire 7,000 new workers by 2012 to help build the greener cars we know our customers want to drive."
Ashford Galbreath, Director of Advanced Materials and Comfort Engineering for Lear Corporation said: "Today Lear provides SoyFoamTM seating on multiple North American Ford and other customer vehicles with even higher levels of soy content and remain committed to changing all of Lear's global seating foam to a renewable resourced, environmentally friendlier product. I want to thank Senator Stabenow for leading the charge and helping us raise awareness of the advantages and availability of locally sourced renewable automotive seating, and of course thank Ford Motor Company and the United Soybean Board for their support as fellow leaders in environmental stewardship."
Ken Farminer, Director of Business Development for Zeeland BioBased Products LLC said: "Zeeland BioBased Products is excited at Senator Stabenow's leadership, interest and involvement in the recognition of agriculturally based products as viable alternatives to fossil- fuel based materials which will enable the United States to capitalize on its formidable agricultural capabilities."
Building on the work of agricultural pioneers, innovators and entrepreneurs are processing Michigan-grown crops like soybeans for use in advanced manufactured goods and materials, replacing imported traditional petroleum products. Last month, Senator Stabenow held a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing to examine the job-creation potential of bio-based manufacturing in Michigan and across the country.
Bio-based products on display at the press conference included foam car seats made from soybeans, a chainsaw lubricant made of 100% soybean oil, and other everyday products manufactured from soybeans including paint, shampoo, candles, and gun bore cleaner. According to the Michigan Agricultural Statistics Service, the Michigan soybean industry supports more than 6,900 jobs and generates $1.5 billion in economic activity across the state. Saginaw, Tuscola, Gratiot, and Sanilac counties are leading the state in soybean production.
During the press conference, Senator Stabenow pointed out that Henry Ford was one of Michigan's greatest agriculture pioneers, involving farmers in the work he was doing on automobiles. Today, there are cars rolling down assembly lines across America being built with parts made from agricultural products: seats, interior panels, armrests, sunshades, to soy wire coatings, carpets, and structural foam.
In Michigan alone, there are over 80 companies manufacturing bio-based products and even more using bio-based materials in their products. These products are not just for cars - they are cleaning products, soaps, insulation, plastics, foam products, and fabrics. Bio-based products have the potential to displace foreign petroleum, redirect investment into domestic operations and strengthen American manufacturing and agriculture.