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Blog: Secretary's Column: Creating Jobs by Strengthening the Bio-Based Economy


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At USDA, we're working every day to create jobs and support the American agriculture sector. One important piece of this effort is our support for a bio-based economy that will help increase business opportunities for farmers and ranchers, and create jobs across our nation.

Today, there are more than 3,000 American companies producing more than 25,000 bio-based products made from renewable sources grown here at home. In turn, their innovation is supporting more than 100,000 American jobs.

The bio-based economy will be critical in the coming years to creating even more jobs -- particularly in rural America -- by bringing together agriculture and manufacturing, two sectors that are key economic drivers.

These bio-based products represent a wide range of things Americans use every day such as cleaning goods, lubricants, paint, and building materials. And across America, folks are building on this success to drive the next round of innovation in bio-products.

President Obama and I understand the importance of a thriving bio-based economy in the United States; that's why the Obama Administration has taken a variety of steps to support the work of bio-based manufacturers and researchers around the country.

A little more than a year ago, USDA created the "USDA Certified Bio-based Product" label -- an icon that's featured on more than 700 products you can buy at a local grocery store, home improvement store, or pharmacy.

This label helps Americans identify products that are made from renewable sources, promoting increased purchase and use of these groundbreaking products.

President Obama also directed the Federal government earlier this year to increase procurement of bio-based products in carrying out our work. In fact, we've increased the number of bio-based products for preferred Federal procurement to more than 9,000 in 77 product categories.

And two weeks ago, USDA proposed to expand this program by including 12 new categories of bio-based products for Federal procurement. This means that Federal agencies will be able to further support cutting-edge companies, creating more business opportunity for American innovators and creating more jobs -- many of them in rural America.

Just as importantly, it means that we can continue growing an industry that creates jobs while reducing our dependence on Middle East oil in making the things we need.

As American agriculture continues to thrive, I know we can continue to harness the power of bio-based products to create jobs and grow the economy -- both in rural America and across the country.

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