Biobased and Renewable Products News: USDA

April 6, 2018
USDA Issues Statement On Plant Breeding Innovation Techniques That Include Genome Editing
On March 28, 2018, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue issued a statement providing clarification on USDA’s oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques that include techniques called genome editing.  The announcement states that under its biotechnology regulations, USDA “does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests,” which “includes a set of new ... read more >
March 30, 2018
USDA Publishes Biobased Economy Report
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its report on the economic impact of the biobased economy.  The report, titled “Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy,” reviews data from 2011 and 2016 to analyze trends in the agricultural, bioenergy, renewable chemicals, and policy sectors.  According to the analysis, the renewable chemicals and biobased products sector contributed 4.22 million jobs and an economic value of $393 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014.  Between 2014 and 2016, the number of products certified under the UDSA Biopreferred® program ... read more >
March 23, 2018
USDA Seeks Public Comment On Collection Of Biobased Procurement Data
On March 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued in the Federal Register a notice announcing the submission of an information collection request (ICR) on the guidelines for designating biobased products for federal procurement to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Pursuant to Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002, as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008, and the Agricultural Act of 2014, federal agencies are required to purchase biobased products under the preferred procurement program.  Product ... read more >
March 23, 2018
USDA Solicits REAP Applicants For Fiscal Year 2018
On March 13, 2018, the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service issued in the Federal Register a notice of solicitation of applications for the  Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2018.  The solicitation is being issued prior to the passage of a final appropriations act to allow time for the submission and review of applications within the current FY.  Information on the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act will be published on the Rural Business-Cooperative Service website.  The solicitation ... read more >
March 16, 2018
NIFA Issues 2017 Annual Report
On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published its 2017 Annual Report:  User Inspired Science Transforming Lives.  The report provides an overview and examples of the many NIFA-funded research, extension, and education outcomes conducted by a broad range of partners, including academic and science organizations; small business and industry; agencies from all levels of government; and non-governmental organizations.  According to the report, NIFA relies on stakeholder input as a key driver in ... read more >
March 16, 2018
Industry Coalition Sends Letter On Farm Bill To Congressional Agricultural Committee
On March 6, 2018, a coalition of over 200 companies and trade associations sent a letter to the Agricultural Committee leaders in the House and Senate urging the reauthorization of and stable mandatory funding for the energy title programs in the next Farm Bill reauthorization.  The letter states that the Farm Bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments for more than 15 years with an incredibly modest, cost-effective investment.  The less than one tenth of one ... read more >
February 9, 2018
USDA Cancels Farm-To-Fleet Biofuel Program
On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) announced in the Federal Register that it has withdrawn support for the Farm-to-Fleet Biofuel Production Incentive (BPI) program.   CCC determined that, due to limited available funds, the BPI program is no longer a priority.  USDA and the U.S. Department of Navy (Navy) launched the Farm-to-Fleet program in 2013 to provide incentive funds to companies refining biofuel in the United States from certain domestically grown feedstocks converted to drop-in biofuel for delivery ... read more >
January 26, 2018
USDA Announces $6 Million In Funding For Bioenergy Feedstock Genomics
On January 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of up to $6 million in funding to support research in plant feedstock genomics for bioenergy.  Support is provided in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) through the Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy program, which aims to improve the use of biomass and plant feedstocks for the production of fuels or renewable chemical feedstocks.  Research projects ... read more >
January 19, 2018
Rural Prosperity Task Force Presents Findings To President Trump
On January 8, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue presented to President Donald Trump the findings of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.  The Task Force was established in 2017 following an Executive Order by President Trump to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.  According to the report, over 100 actions organized around five key topic areas, specifically e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, innovation and technology, and economic development, were ... read more >
January 12, 2018
USDA Awards Nearly Three Million In Funding For Integrated Biorefinery Optimization
On January 4, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the University of Tennessee a $2,994,429 grant to improve biorefinery technologies through the Integrated Biorefinery Optimization (IBO) program.  The project aims to develop and commercialize solvent fractionated lignins to polymeric products for their potential market in building and construction sectors.  The overarching goal of the research is to develop integrated pathways for the extraction of value-added polymeric products from lignin waste/under-valued ... read more >
January 5, 2018
USDA Announces Support For SBIR Phase II Projects
On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the release of a request for applications (RFA) for Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) projects.  The SBIR program is comprised of three phases. During Phase I, applicants determine the scientific or technical feasibility of their proposed ideas. Phase II requires a more comprehensive application, outlining the proposed effort in further detail. The purpose of Phase III is to stimulate technological innovation and return on investment from ... read more >
November 17, 2017
Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program Accepting Applications
On November 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) issued a statement soliciting applications for its Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program.  The program aims to support the generation of new information that will assist federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing genetically engineered (GE) organisms, including microorganisms, into the environment.  Exploratory research that relates specifically to federal regulatory needs is preferred. USDA ... read more >
November 10, 2017
USDA Withdraws Proposed Rule On The Importation, Interstate Movement, And Environmental Release Of Certain GE Organisms
On November 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a notice in the Federal Register announcing that it was withdrawing its proposed rule that would have revised the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms.  The proposed rule, which was issued on January 19, 2017, aimed to “update the regulations in response to advances in genetic engineering and understanding of the plant pest and noxious weed risk posed by [GE] organisms, thereby ... read more >
October 27, 2017
Congressmen Send Bipartisan Letter On Regulating Agricultural Biotechnology To USDA, FDA, EPA
On October 17, 2017, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (R-FL), and 77 additional House members sent a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to urge the agencies to work together to promote innovative new technologies aimed at increasing crop yields and reducing the cost of production.  According to Congressman Panetta, the letter was prepared in response to duplicative or inconsistent regulatory proposals regarding biotechnology.  In the ... read more >
October 27, 2017
USDA Awards $7.3 Million In Funding For Agricultural Technologies
On October 17, 2017, the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the recipients of 17 grants totaling $7.3 million for projects focused on the development of next generation agricultural technologies and systems to meet the growing demand for food, fuel, and fiber.  Funding is provided by NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Recipients include: Auburn University, which received $481,539 to develop and optimize the hydrothermal liquefaction of lignin (HTL) chemical stream and to ... read more >
October 13, 2017
USDA Announces $21 Million In Funding For Biobased Products
On September 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded six grants totaling nearly $21.1 million to support the development of new jet fuel, biobased products, and biomaterials from renewable sources.  The funding is provided through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts (SBEBP) Challenge Area.  Grant recipients include: University of Arizona, which received $7,026,000 for the cultivation of two desert-dwelling feedstocks, specifically guayule ... read more >
October 13, 2017
Spero Energy Receives SBIR Grant For Biobased Chelates
USDA awarded Spero Energy Inc. a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant for $100,000 to conduct research and development to increase the availability and competitiveness of biobased products within the agricultural market.  Spero Energy is an Indiana-based company focused on the development of cost competitive processes for the conversion of biomass to renewable chemicals and fuels.  The SBIR grant aims to support the development of a series of patent-pending biobased and biodegradable chelates.  Chelates bind and deliver micronutrients to a variety of crops, which has ... read more >
October 13, 2017
FDA Announces Meeting, Calls For Comments On FDA/USDA Agricultural Biotechnology Education And Outreach Initiative
On October 12, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced two public meetings regarding its Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative.  The meetings will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, on November 7, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (EST) and in San Francisco, California, on November 14, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (PST).  FDA states the purpose of the public meetings is “to provide the public with an opportunity to share information, experiences, and suggestions to help inform the development of this education and outreach ... read more >
August 4, 2017
USDA Announces $15.1 Million In Grants For Bioenergy and Bioproducts
On July 20, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded 34 grants totaling $15.1 million for research on renewable energy, biobased products, and agroecosystems.  The grants, which are funded through the agency’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), are expected to help develop the next generation of renewable energy, bioproducts, and biomaterials; protect the ecosystems that support agriculture; and improve the agricultural systems and processes that help feed the nation.    The following ... read more >
August 4, 2017
USDA Releases Annual Technology Transfer Report
On July 20, 2017, USDA released its technology transfer report for fiscal year 2016.  The report outlines the public release of information, tools, and solutions and the adoption and enhancement of research outcomes by collaborative partners and formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) that occurred in 2016.   The report highlights several research initiatives by ARS scientists focused on supporting the bioeconomy, including: Development of a new yeast strain with a unique cellulolytic enzyme that efficiently breaks down biofeedstock, shows resistance ... read more >
July 3, 2017
NAS Releases Final Report on Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham On June 30, 3017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released its final version of its report Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology, which it states “analyzes the future landscape of biotechnology products and seeks to inform forthcoming policy making [and] … identifies potential new risks and frameworks for risk assessment and areas in which the risks or lack of risks relating to the products of biotechnology are well understood.”  This report is a collaboration among a committee of ... read more >
June 16, 2017
DOE Announces $9 Million In Funding For Biomass Research And Development
On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced that up to $9 million in funding will be available through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) in fiscal year (FY) 2017.  Projects funded by BRDI will focus on developing economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increasing the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products, and diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio.  DOE and NIFA ... read more >
June 2, 2017
Trump Releases Proposed Budget For FY 2018
On May 23, 2017, President Trump released the Administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2018, which includes significant cuts to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budgets.  According to the proposed budget, funding for DOE would be cut by 5.6 percent to $28 billion, with $636 million allotted for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and $56.6 million for the Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO).  The proposed DOE budget aims to eliminate the Advanced ... read more >
May 5, 2017
USDA Seeks Comment On Revision To Information Collection For The Advanced Biofuel Payment Program
On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service published in the Federal Register a notice that it is requesting approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of a revision to a currently approved information collection for the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which provides funding to eligible advanced biofuel producers to support the production of biofuel products.  The Rural Business-Cooperative Service is specifically seeking comments on the following topics: Whether the proposed collection of information is ... read more >
March 17, 2017
DOE Announced Biomass Technical Advisory Meeting
On March 8, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) published a notice in the Federal Register regarding an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Technical Advisory Committee.  The meeting will take place March 30-31, 2017, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, and will focus on developing advice and guidance that promotes R&D for the production of biobased fuels and products.  The tentative agenda includes updates on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DOE ... read more >
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