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USDA Boosts Innovation as a Pathway to Jobs and a Rural Biobased Economy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours Renmatix's state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix headquarters in King of Prussia, PA on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, and to commission the company’s new multiple-feedstock processing BioFlex Conversion Unit. Photo property of Renmatix.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tours Renmatix's state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility at Renmatix headquarters in King of Prussia, PA on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, and to commission the company’s new multiple-feedstock processing BioFlex Conversion Unit. Photo property of Renmatix.

If you want proof that rural America is a land of limitless opportunity, go to King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Last week I accompanied Secretary Vilsack as he toured a state-of-the-art bioindustrial facility in Pennsylvania that converts multiple feedstocks into cellulosic sugars.  The plant, operated by Renmatix, will test and convert a range of non-food plant materials through a proprietary process.  The goal is to move forward in development of next-generation renewable energy and high value bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based products.  It is a goal that bears enormous promise for rural America, potentially creating many thousands of jobs, untold economic activity and new markets.

There is no question that rural America is leading the way in innovation, especially when it comes to the new bio-based economy, and USDA is a  major partner in that effort.  The Secretary announced, during his visit to King of Prussia, the award of $25 million to fund research and development of next-generation renewables.  Among the recipients is the USDA Agricultural Research Service Eastern Regional Research Center in Wyndmoor, Penn., which will develop on-the-farm technology to convert forest residue, horse manure, switchgrass, and other grasses into biofuels and other high-value specialty chemicals.  Awards were also announced for Kansas State University, Ohio State and for Ceramatec, Inc. in Utah.

As part of the Obama Administration’s “All of the above” energy strategy, USDA is working in all parts of the country to develop the biofuels industry.  It is supporting the construction and retrofitting of biorefineries using new, cutting edge technologies, and it is working with partners including the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration to produce “drop in” biofuels that can reduce dependence on petroleum and increase national security.

We’ve done so much already, including creation of the “USDA Biobased Product” label that links manufacturers of more than 25,000 plant-based products with buyers, but there is much more to accomplish and working together with our partners, federal, state, local and industry, we will do just that.

To find out more about USDA energy programs, click here.

One Response to “USDA Boosts Innovation as a Pathway to Jobs and a Rural Biobased Economy”

  1. stan says:

    I think this will still compete with food production, for resources and land. With the drought and population growth we shouldn’t and don’t need to use good land to grow fuel. There are plenty of better options that we should support and fast track,to cut our foreign energy dependents, like- http://www.airfuelsynthesis.com/, safe new nuclear energy http://www.nei.org/, http://www.terrapower.com and http://www.proterro.com/
    But the RFS mandates stifle better options by forcing us to use billions of gallons corn and other land source energy.

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