2012 Biobased Stakeholders’ Workshop Summary

Senator Stabenow and Secretary Vilsack Highlight Workshop

Ford Technical Leader - Elastomers Cynthia Flanigan demonstrates how Ford tests soy in its products during a tour for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USB directors and the media.The 2012 USB Biobased Stakeholders’ Workshop featured the nation’s current and future leaders in biobased products. 

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, along with Ford Ford Vice President, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering Robert D. Brown, highlighted the Workshop.  Read the full news release.

Hosted by USB at the Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Building in Dearborn, Michigan, speakers shared insight into the opportunities for biobased products to bring even greater benefits to America’s economy, environment and energy security.  Attendees also learned about the many sustainability efforts of U.S. farmers during a dinner program at the Ford Cherry Hill Farm in Ypsilanti.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack
Robert Brown, Ford Vice President Jim Stillman, USB
Lewis Bainbridge, USB Collegiate Biobased Network
Suzanne Shelton, The Shelton Group Jeff Goodman, USDA BioPreferred Program
Farm Tour & Dinner at Ford Cherry Hill Farm State & National Parks Using Biobased Products

Below is a full run down of the 2012 Workshop, including speaker presentations and photos, as well as personal interviews with some of the presenters.


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow addresses attendees at the 2012 Biobased Stakeholders' Workshop.Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow highlighted the jobs associated with the development of biobased products. “When we grow things here and make things here, we create jobs here in Michigan,” Senator Stabenow.  “We are at the forefront of biobased manufacturing, and expanding this emerging sector of our economy will help businesses who want to invest and create new Michigan jobs.”

Listen to Senator Stabenow's remarks at the Workshop.


USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed the importance of the biobased economy at the Workshop.In his remarks, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed the critical importance of a biobased economy.  “Through a strong biobased economy, America can out-build and out-innovate the world, and we’ll create more jobs in Michigan and across our nation that can’t be shipped overseas," said Vilsack.  "We know that committed support for the growing biobased economy is key to strengthening economic growth and opportunity in rural America.”

Listen to Secretary Vilsack's remarks at the Workshop.


"From seat cushions to gaskets to headrests, soy is used today in every vehicle we produce in North America as part of an effort to make our products more environmentally-friendly,” said Robert Brown, Ford’s Vice President, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “The use of soy and soybean oil has helped us reduce our petroleum oil usage by more than 5 million pounds annually and carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20 million pounds.”

Listen to Robert Brown's remarks at the Workshop.


USB Farmer Leader Jim Stillman discusses the cooperation between soybean growers and biobased companies.USB Vice Chair Jim Stillman, an Emmetsburg, Iowa soybean grower, discussed how the Workshop highlights an American success story of cooperation between soybean growers and companies like Ford that use soybeans to reduce petroleum in their products.  “Henry Ford would be excited to see that soybeans are used today by hundreds of American companies offering everything from seat cushions to carpet backing to cleaning supplies,” said Stillman.

Listen to an interview with USB Farmer Leader Jim Stillman.


The program not only attracted business leaders from a wide array of industries, but also many students and educators who will help fuel future innovation in sustainability and agriculture. “USB is pleased to welcome university and college students to the USB Stakeholders’ Workshop,” said USB Domestic Marketing Committee Chair Lewis Bainbridge, an Ethan, S.D. soybean farmer. “These students are already conducting exciting research on biobased products that will bring even more benefits to America in the future.”

Collegiate Biobased Network students with Senator Stabenow, USDA Secretary Vilsack and USB Farmer LeadersThe Workshop coincided with the launch of the Collegiate Biobased Network (CBN).  The CBN was created to inform college and university students about opportunities with biobased products and to connect students with biobased industry leaders and fellow interested students.

Listen to an interview with USB Farmer Leader Lewis Bainbridge.


Suzanne Shelton addresses 2012 Workshop attendees.Marketing and promotion strategies to create positive consumer and government attitudes toward biobased products is an important aspect in the development of the industry.  Suzanne Shelton of the Shelton Group discussed biobased market opportunities, the importance of cooperation and what motivates buyers to purchase green products.

View Suzanne Shelton's presentation (ppt)


Deb Mielewski, Technical Leader of Plastics Research at Ford, talks about the development of biobased foam being used in every Ford vehicle manufactured in North America.Industry leaders like Ford Motor Company have worked with the USB for several years to help research, develop and implement soy-based materials into their products to displace petroleum use and improve the sustainability footprint of their operations.

Dr. Timothy Wallington, Systems Analytics and Environmental Research Department with Ford Motor Company, talked about biofuels research at Ford during a tour for Sen. Stabenow, Secretary Vilsack and other invited workshop participants.

Listen to an interview with Deb Mielewski, Technical Leader at Ford Motor Company.


In addition to collegiate poster sessions on biobased products, the program included updates on the Federal BioPreferred® program. USDA's Jeff Goodman provided an update on the BioPreferred® program. 

USDA's Jeff Goodman provided an update on the BioPreferred program.On February 21, President Obama called for Federal agencies to dramatically increase their purchases of biobased products during the next two years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture designates categories of biobased products for a Federal Procurement preference. In the process, minimum biobased content standards are established for each product category. There are currently 77 BioPreferred® designated product categories required for preferred Federal purchasing.

View Jeff Goodman's presentation (ppt)


Workshop attendees tour Ford's Cherry Hill Farm in nearby Ypsilanti, MI.Attendees had a chance to visit a working farm nearby.  Ford's Cherry Hill farm was the setting where  Workshop attendees learned about the many sustainability efforts of U.S. farmers during a dinner program at the farm in Ypsilanti, MI.

Listen to an interview with USB Farmer Leader from Indiana, Karen Fear

Listen to an interview with USB Farmer Leader from Ohio, Dale Profit

See more pictures from the tour and dinner here.


Hiawatha National Forest's Toby Rhue (right) talks about his use of biobased products at the National Forest, along with Michigan State Extension Agent Ned Birkey.Attendees heard about successful use of biobased products from staff at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Hiawatha National Forest and Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  These parks and national forests are using a variety of biobased products from lubricants, hydraulics, cleaning products, hand cleaners and more that align with their environmental and conservation missions.

Read Case Studies on their use of biobased products.

See additional pictures of Chris Case, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Toby Rhue, Hiawatha National Forest, and William Doan, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

Listen to an interview with Chris Case, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore