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June 16, 2006   Email to Friend 

The American Farm Bureau Federation has joined with other agricultural groups in an effort to advance policy and usage of biobased products.
Tracy Taylor Grondine
(202) 406-3642
June 16, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association and American Farm Bureau Federation in an effort to further policy and usage of biobased products announced today they are joining the new Alliance for a Biobased Economy (ABE).

Biobased products range from corn-based fabrics to soy-based hydraulic fluids and carpet backing and they represent a tremendous new market for U.S. agricultural commodities. The groups note the value of biobased products to the environment, national energy security and rural economic development as a reason for their support of ABE.

The alliance is made up of 32 members, including businesses and organizations ranging from the National Resources Defense Council to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, and will advocate collectively in support of biobased products and work to increase understanding in Congress of the issues facing biobased product procurement by the federal government. In addition, the coalition is urging more support for research into the technology of producing products made by renewable sources.

"As the United States moves to a renewable economy, biobased products will increasingly replace conventional products derived from petroleum," said Gerald Tumbleson, NCGA president. "All Americans benefit from increased use of non-toxic bioproducts; they are better for the environment, they reduce the need for foreign oil, and the economy benefits through job development and products made from home-grown crops."

"ASA strongly supports biobased products and ABE because biobased products are a new frontier for use of soybeans in hundreds of products ranging from carpet backing to cleaning supplies and spray foam insulation," said ASA President Bob Metz, a soybean producer from West Browns Valley, S.D. "Soybean growers urge the federal government to use its buying power to set an example for the nation by purchasing biobased products."

"We are proud to be part of this coalition and help pave the way for a cleaner and healthier environment through the use of biobased products," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "The increased development and usage of biobased products is also good for rural communities because they help capture value-added opportunities."

Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who co-authored the biobased provisions of the 2002 farm bill will address ABE members and other attendees at a reception hosted by the NCGA today at 5 p.m. in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 428.

"I'm thrilled to have widespread support to make increased purchase of biobased items a reality," said Harkin. "This broad coalition shows the tangible and far reaching benefits using more biobased products will have for the United States. As biobased products gain momentum, we'll ensure these benefits become a reality for millions of farmers, consumers, and citizens around the country."

In March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its final rule designating the first six items to which federal agencies must give special consideration when making purchases. Federal agencies are required, with some exceptions, to purchase these biobased products within designated categories no later than March 16, 2007. In coming weeks, USDA will designate additional items for federal procurement. USDA has already identified more than 150 biobased product categories and more than 3,800 individual products for preferred procurement status.

According to the ABE, while the final rule is a positive step forward, a lot of work with the administration and Congress still needs to be done to put into effect the requirement that all federal agencies buy biobased products. The coalition believes implementation is critical if the federal government is to shift its estimated $400 billion in annual purchasing from petroleum-based to biobased products.

The alliance insists the implementation has tremendous potential for a multiplier effect. "The federal government can lead by example, so state and local governments and the general public can make use of biobased products. The federal government's blazed the marketplace trail for America's use of recycled paper, and it can do the same for biobased products," said the alliance.

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