Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2011)
USDA Programs to Support Development and Use of Biobased Industrial Products
Nonfood, nonfeed uses of agricultural and forestry materials offer the best opportunities to realize the full economic potential which agriculture and forestry can play, beyond the traditional food, feed, and fiber markets. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a portfolio of programs that support research, development, and commercialization of biobased lubricants as well as other industrial products that can replace petroleum-based products, such as plastics, paints, coatings, and adhesives. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers competitive grant programs to support basic and applied research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, and pre-commercialization research is supported through the Small Business Innovation Research program www.nifa.usda.gov. NIFA collaborates with the Department of Energy through joint solicitations for the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, which supports developmental research and demonstration projects. USDA is the lead Federal agency for implementing the BioPreferredSM purchasing program. Many products, including lubricants, have been officially designated as biobased and must be given first preference for purchase by Federal agencies, thus creating a tremendous market pull for new products through the purchasing power of the Federal government. This program will allow agencies to meet their environmental goals with products that can also meet performance requirements and are cost competitive. (www.biopreferred.gov). Through partnerships with industry, Academia and other Federal agencies, these programs are making a significant contribution to the development and adoption of alternative technologies to increase energy independence and to open new opportunities for agriculture.