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12:00 am
Tue February 21, 2012

Obama Boosts Bio-Industry With Mandate To Buy Green

  

The Obama Administration announced rules Tuesday that will help the biobased products industry grow. The government is encouraging agencies to buy more biobased soap, disposable forks, paint and other supplies.

There are 17 USDA biopreferred companies in Arizona, 110 biopreferred companies in California, five biopreferred companies in Nevada, three in New Mexico and 52 in Texas.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the goal is to help the environment, cut the nation’s dependence on oil and boost rural economies.

"The president’s memorandum is designed to provide for more contracts, more opportunities for these biobased businesses," Vilsack said Tuesday during a briefing with the media. "That obviously is going to mean greater market share. That should lead to more businesses growing. That should lead to more jobs in rural America and the result (should be) a greater demand for what farmers and ranchers and growers can produce."

More than 3,000 companies make products out of soybeans, corn and other renewable materials. And most of these manufacturers are in rural America employing close to 100,000 people, according to an Iowa State University study.

Architectural and Environmental Associates owner Carl Ramsey markets, develops and sells biobased products in Flagstaff, Ariz. He says having government behind the bio industry will help it take hold.

"It’s going to take the pressure off of fossil fuels, burn much cleaner, results in less air pollution, Ramsey said. "It’s just a snowball effect."

The president wants the federal government to increase the number of bio-based products available to consumers within a year. There are currently about 9,000.