Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced a new Grow it Here, Make it Here initiative yesterday to advance the emerging bio-based manufacturing industry, using agriculture goods to make value-added products and create jobs. Chairwoman Stabenow’s new initiatives would increase access to capital for bio-based manufacturers, improve marketing of bio-based products, spur the commercialization of new agricultural innovations, and strengthen USDA’s Biopreferred Program to create new jobs.
“When we grow things and make things here, we create jobs here,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “In Michigan over 80 years ago, Henry Ford discovered how to use agriculture products in manufacturing his automobiles. Today, innovators are again making things with homegrown products. This initiative will help businesses who want to invest and create new jobs here in America."
Bio-based manufacturing represents an emerging sector with significant economic growth opportunities for rural America, by both creating new markets for farmers while creating new manufacturing jobs across America in rural and urban areas alike. According to a recent Department of Agriculture study, the bio-based plastic and chemical products industry could create over 100,000 American jobs – and many in rural America. By creating new manufacturing uses for agricultural products, manufacturing companies continue investing in homegrown feedstock and materials to strengthen a growing manufacturing sector.
Chairwoman Stabenow’s Grow it Here, Make it Here initiative consists of four parts:
- Strengthens the Biopreferred Program which certifies and labels products so consumers can choose to purchase goods made of agriculture materials, and provides a preference for these products for government purchases. Her initiative also calls for greater accountability in the initiative, including auditing and compliance activities to ensure the integrity of the certified label. USDA’s Biopreferred Program offers over 8,900 bio-based products.
- Spurs the commercialization of new agricultural innovations by streamlining and focusing resources to help new bio-based projects move from the development to the commercialization phase, also known as the "valley of death" since far too many good ideas do not make it out of this phase. Her initiative focuses the USDA’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative on the commercialization of bio-based products-bridging this gap to help accelerate the bio-based industry.
- Increases access to capital for bio-based manufacturers by expanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Biorefinery Loan Guarantee Program, so bio-based manufacturers have access to loans to help finance new operations or expand existing ones.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tom Carper (Delaware), Robert Casey (Pennsylvania), Chris Coons (Delaware), Kent Conrad (North Dakota), Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), and Jon Tester (Montana).
Last year, Chairwoman Stabenow introduced the first piece of her Grow it Here, Make it Here initiative, a bill that would invest in new facilities or purchase equipment to manufacture bio-based products. Specifically, her her bill allows companies to qualify for up to a 30% tax credit to help finance investments in new, expanded, or re-equipped bio-based manufacturing, creating new jobs. Only companies that manufacture these products in America are eligible for this incentive.
Using American-grown bio-based products displaces foreign petroleum, reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. This redirects investment into domestic operations rather than sending wealth abroad (often to nations hostile to America’s interests) and strengthens American manufacturing and agriculture. Currently, bio-based products represent 4% of the market for the plastic and chemical industries, replacing petroleum based products. Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis puts the potential market share of bio-based plastic and chemical products in excess of 20% by 2025 with adequate federal policy support. Studies show that if that 20% threshold is realized, it would create over 100,000 American jobs. Other forms of bio-based manufacturing would create even more.