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March 15, 2024

USDA Releases Plan to Strengthen the Bioeconomy through a More Resilient Biomass Supply Chain

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released on March 14, 2024, a report entitled Building a Resilient Biomass Supply: A Plan to Enable the Bioeconomy in America, “a plan that will boost biomass supply chain resiliency for domestic biobased product manufacturing, while also advancing environmental sustainability and market opportunities for small and mid-sized producers.” According to USDA, the plan is one of the key USDA deliverables of President Biden’s 2022 Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. USDA states that the plan finds that U.S. biomass supplies are abundant, positioning the United States to convert biomass into biobased products if improvements to biomass supply chain logistics and materials handling technology are made, and farmers are provided with incentives to produce biomass while reducing risk. The plan’s recommendations include researching and deploying improved biomass crops, taking advantage of woody biomass residuals, and helping develop markets for biobased products through USDA’s BioPreferred Program.

USDA also published an Implementation Framework that identifies actions USDA will take in the next year to increase available cultivated biomass, invest in infrastructure for biobased products, and support the responsible development of the biomass supply chain. These near-term activities are organized around six major actions recommended in the plan:

  • Develop the next generation of biomass feedstocks and increase use of cover crops;
  • Improve access and utilization of woody biomass for biobased products;
  • Invest in resilient infrastructure and capacity to utilize biomass feedstocks for more jobs and stronger rural economies;
  • Support new and better markets for biobased products that drive demand for biomass feedstocks;
  • Promote climate-smart practices to enhance productivity and sustainability of biomass feedstocks; and
  • Provide stakeholder outreach and technical assistance to ensure the resilience of biomass and biobased supply chains.

USDA also released a fact sheet outlining its 2023 bioeconomy accomplishments, which include $772 million in investments for research, development, and infrastructure involving biofuels, fertilizer production, crop innovations, biobased products, and more.