Growing biobased products industry helps support rural communities


Growing biobased products industry helps support rural communities

The executive director of the Plant Based Products Council says the biobased products industry presents economic and environmental opportunities for rural communities.

Jessica Bowman tells Brownfield “according to USDA data, the industry contributes $470 billion in value to the U.S. economy and supports 4.6 million American jobs.”

The USDA says biobased products are derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine, and forestry materials.

Bownman says increased focus on sustainability is providing opportunities for growth, and farmers have a role to play in this space.

“As far as plant expansions and new facilities being announced in many rural communities and that’s being driven by corporate commitments to incorporate more renewable materials and move away from fossil fuel-based plastics and that’s driven by consumer demand for more sustainable products,” she says. “Our rural communities and farmers have an opportunity to help provide those more sustainable products that consumers are looking for while also providing economic opportunity and quality STEM jobs in rural communities.”

Bowman spoke with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Rural Development and Financial Security Committee during the recenter NASDA Winter Policy meeting.

She says there was interest among NASDA members to help support the industry and bring opportunities back to their states.

Bowman says the Plant Based Products Council is focused on growing the bioproducts industry and helping realize the environmental and economic potential of the products. She says PBPC recognizes that policy and education are needed to help broader stakeholders understand what the products are and how the industry can be supported.

An economic impact analysis of the industry found that biobased products displace about 9.4 million barrels of oil a year and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year.

Audio: Jessica Bowman