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March 11, 2024

USDA Releases Reports on Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry and on Hemp Research and Innovation

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

On March 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Agriculture honored the second annual National Biobased Products Day, “a celebration to raise public awareness of biobased products, their benefits and their contributions to the U.S. economy and rural communities.” USDA states that as part of its activities to honor National Biobased Products Day, it released two reports:

Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry

USDA states that its commissioned report “An Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry: 2023 Update,” shows that, based on data from 2021, the biobased products industry has grown nationwide despite the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to USDA, key report findings include:

  • Biobased products, a segment of the bioeconomy, contributed $489 billion to the U.S. economy in 2021, up from $464 billion in 2020. This is an increase of $25 billion — a 5.1 percent increase;
  • The biobased products sector, and the jobs it supports, are shown to impact every state in the nation, not just the states where agriculture is the main industry; and
  • The use of biobased products reduces the consumption of petroleum equivalents. In 2017, oil displacement was estimated to be as much as 9.4 million barrels of oil equivalents. In 2021, the displacement grew to 10.7 million barrels of oil equivalents.

USDA notes that the findings span seven major sectors representing the bioeconomy: Agriculture and Forestry; Biobased Chemicals; Biobased Plastic Bottles and Packaging; Biorefining; Enzymes; Forest Products; and Textiles. The 2023 Update is the sixth volume in a series of reports tracking the impact of the biobased product industry on the U.S. economy.

Hemp Research and Innovation

USDA also released its “Hemp Research Needs Roadmap,” which reflects stakeholder input in identifying the hemp industry’s greatest research needs: breeding and genetics, best practices for production, biomanufacturing for end uses, and transparency and consistency. According to USDA, these priority research areas “cut across the entire hemp supply chain and are vital to bolstering hemp industry research.” USDA notes that growing demand for biobased products, like those from hemp, “creates potential for added-value use in food, feed, fiber and other industrial products that can improve the livelihoods of U.S. producers and offer consumers alternative biobased products.”

USDA also announced a $10 million National Institute of Food and Agriculture investment to Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center. USDA states that the Center will work with 13 Native American Tribes to spur economic development in the western United States by developing manufacturing capabilities for materials and products made from hemp.