The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a list of its 2015 top achievements. According to the department, these achievements demonstrate efforts to help farmers and ranchers build the American bioeconomy.
“Since 2009, USDA has focused significant and targeted investments in America’s rural communities to bring transformative change. Last year, those investments blossomed across the United States with substantial results in the burgeoning bioeconomy, an exploding local and regional food system, unparalleled investments in renewable energy, improved nutrition interventions for young people, historic partnerships in conservation and greenhouse gas reduction, and major contributions in rural infrastructure, among some. Even with challenges in 2015, including an unprecedented animal disease outbreak and lower commodity prices, America’s rural communities have proven once again that we are a nation of makers, creators and innovators, and our economy and security are stronger because of it. As we look to 2016, USDA will continue to seek out new and innovative ways to expand opportunity for America’s farming families and rural communities,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Here is a list of USDA’s top outcomes in climate change and bioeconomy in 2015. Climate Change: announced 10 Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry, which, by 2025, will reduce net emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road. USDA and EPA set the first-ever national food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030 in an effort to reduce the amount of wasted food in landfills producing methane emissions that fuel climate change.
Energy and Bioeconomy: made available $100 million in grant funds, with matching funds from state and private partners, which will provide $210 million to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide that supply American-made renewable fuels, such as E15 and E85. Issued a report that examines and quantifies the effect of America’s biobased products industry from an economics and jobs perspective. The report notes that in 2013 alone, that industry contributed four million jobs and $369 billion to the U.S. economy.
The BioPreferred Program now has more than 14,000 biobased products listed in its online catalog and, to date, more than 2,400 products are certified to use the BioPreferred label. USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program provided 1,945 projects with a total of $82.9 million in grants and $161.2 million in loan guarantees, the largest funding level in the history of the program. Made one conditional commitment through the 9003 program to a biorefinery in New Orleans.
Through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, USDA provided assistance to 890 growers on 49,000 acres for costs associated with harvesting and transporting agriculture or forest residues to facilities that convert biomass crops into energy. Research projects funded through NIFA’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) is leading to the development of economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass. Projects include a grant to Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in Findlay, Ohio, which is working to use remaining plant residue from the guayule shrub for rubber production.