Canadian Biomass Magazine

USDA releases plan to boost biomass supply chain resiliency, advance environmental sustainability

March 15, 2024
By Canadian Biomass Staff

The USDA's new Building a Resilient Biomass Supply report.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a plan it says 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.

The report — Building a Resilient Biomass Supply: A Plan to Enable the Bioeconomy in America  — is one of the key USDA deliverables of an executive order issued by President Joe Biden in 2022. It defined what the USDA called “bold goals and new priorities meant to catalyze action inside and outside of government to advance America’s domestic bioeconomy,” in a press release.

“The increasing demand for biomass is a golden opportunity to expand markets and create new revenue for American farmers, ranchers and forest landowners, particularly in rural areas,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the Advanced Bioeconomy Leadership Council meeting in Washington, DC. “We are proud to support President Biden’s commitment to advance America’s domestic bioeconomy and ultimately create new markets and jobs. This comprehensive roadmap will strengthen our production and preprocessing systems to provide incentives for producers and manufacturers, so that biomass can be used to fuel the American bioeconomy.”

$489 billion U.S. industry

Biomass is organic material that comes from crop residues, agricultural and food wastes, forest residuals, livestock, as well as biomass crops that are grown specifically as feedstocks to produce biobased products, it said.

After harvest or collection, biomass can be used to make sustainable fuel, fibers, electricity, construction materials, plastics, insulation, personal care items, and many other biobased products. According to a recently published report by USDA’s BioPreferred Program, biobased products contributed $489 billion to the U.S. economy in 2021, a more than 5 per cent increase from $464 billion in 2020. (All figures U.S.)

“Driven by this clear and growing consumer demand for biobased products, USDA’s plan to support a resilient and responsibly sourced biomass supply chain furthers the Department’s commitment to developing a circular bioeconomy, where agricultural resources are harvested, consumed and reused in a sustainable manner,” the USDA said. “Adopting circular economies ensures that wealth and other economic benefits in the form of jobs and other opportunities are created in rural communities, while also mitigating the effects of climate change and nature loss.”

Biomass supplies in U.S. ‘abundant’

The plan finds that U.S. biomass supplies are abundant.

“This well positions the U.S. 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,” it said. “Among the plan’s recommendations are to research and deploy improved biomass crops, take advantage of woody biomass residuals, and to help develop markets for biobased products through USDA’s BioPreferred Program.”

“Strengthening research and development, capacity building, and biomass market development will help bolster existing markets and catalyze new markets,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

View the report here:

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