Biobased Products Enjoy the Spotlight in Washington

This week in Washington, DC the U.S. biobased products sector was the subject of attention on several fronts.  On Tuesday, June 17 the Senate Ag Committee held a hearing titled, “Grow it Here, Make it Here: Creating Jobs through Biobased Manufacturing.”  Among those testifying at the hearing are The Coca-Cola Company, which uses biobased plastic bottles, called “PlantBottle,”that are made with sugar feedstocks; Cargill, which uses soybean oil to produce an electric transformer fluid called “EnviroTemp” that recently was the recipient of the EPA’s Green Chemistry Award and supplies biobased ingredients for a broad range of companies and products; and Lear Corporation, which uses soybean oil for their SoyFoam products used in automotive interiors.

Following the hearing, the Senate Agriculture Committee hosted a “Spotlight on Innovation” that showcased 35 companies and entities from more than 20 different states, who are involved in developing and producing biobased products. The Indiana Soybean Alliance was among those participating in the showcase and displaying soy-based concrete sealant and other soy based products. Some other notable participants in the showcase include, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Ford Motor Company, DuPont, the Sherwin Williams Company, SynLawn of New York, Biobased Technologies of Arkansas and Soy Clean of Iowa.

Building around the Senate hearing and showcase, the United Soybean Board (USB) held their annual biobased workshop June 17-18 in Washington, DC.  The workshop, officially called the Biobased Stakeholder’s Dialogue, brought together many companies and organizations to examine and discuss issues important to the growth and development of the biobased sector.  The USB workshop was held at the George Washington University (GWU), and included opening remarks from Kathleen Merrigan, the former USDA Deputy Secretary and current Director of Sustainability for GWU as well as a keynote address from current USDA Deputy Secretary and former ASA staffer Krysta Harden.

The Biobased Products Coalition (BPC), which ASA is a founding and leading member, was also a prominent part of the week’s activities.  The BPC worked closely with the Senate Agriculture Committee on the hearing and the showcase and hosted a reception on Tuesday evening, at the same location as the USB workshop.  The BPC also honored current and former Senate Ag Committee chairmen, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) for their leadership and contributions to the biobased products sector.  The BPC presented Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Harkin with biobased floor mats that depict their states and say “Made with Soy.” The mats were made and provided by Universal Textile Technologies, SynLawn and Signature Accord, sister companies located in Dalton, Georgia and New York and members of the BPC.

ASA is a founding and leading member of the Biobased Products Coalition (BPC), which works to develop and implement a comprehensive and pro-active federal policy strategy to advance the interests of biobased manufacturers and their industry partners. The Coalition currently consists of large and small companies, and agricultural trade associations representing feedstock producers.

ASA will continue to seek opportunities through federal policy and with the private sector to increase industrial uses of soybeans and expand markets for soybean producers. The recent developments and market uncertainty in the food and biodiesel sectors reinforces the need to continue to develop additional outlets for soybean oil and soybean uses.