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Biobased Products the Future of Ag

Biobased products, already a big part of agriculture, will likely play an even bigger role in the future as more oil-based items turn into those made from plants. That, from a panel of experts at Agri-Pulse’s Ag and Food Policy summit.

USDA’s Rural Business Cooperative Service head Betsy Dirksen Londrigan says biobased products will be a huge part of agriculture in the very near future. She says, “It’s going to start with the farmers and that’s where the money’s going to go, if we have anything to say about it. I think what we’re going to see in 5-years is the ‘bio-preferred’ product label everywhere, it’s going to be an industry standard, people are going to be looking for it.”

From new fertilizers to aviation fuel, farmers will play a role. Alex Minotti is Vice-President of Government Affairs at LanzaJet; “Commercial producer of alcohol to jet sustainable aviation fuel. And, as was mentioned, we just in January, opened the world’s first commercial plant in Soperton, Georgia, ten million gallons per year of ethanol to both jet fuel and diesel.”

Just a fraction of a potential 36-billion-gallon industry if Treasury and also EPA modernize ethanol emission standards Minotti says to allow key tax credits. But infrastructure’s another hurdle.

Business Development Associate Director at the University of Illinois’ IBRL facility in Urbana-Champaign Beth Conerty says, “Historically, it’s been extremely difficult to get money for capital-intensive infrastructure. And, we kind of saw that through the biofuels era…and there were some real challenges in biofuels. And now, it’s even harder to get funding for capital intensive projects.”

Conerty says too many of the start-ups she works with must go overseas, and a better funding pipeline here would keep those firms and jobs in the US, the world’s ‘hotbed’ for research and development.

Story provided by NAFB News Service and Matt Kaye, Berns Bureau Washington

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