Biobased Benefits Shine for Energy Security and Economy

Agriculture Secretary Keynotes, USB Premiers Video with Veterans

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Overview of Biobased Stakeholders' Dialogue event

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USB Director Lewis Bainbridge welcomes attendees to the 2016 USB Biobased Stakeholders’ Dialogue and describes USB’s work to promote soy-biobased products as well as how U.S. soybean farmers like himself are committed to sustainability.

Washington, D.C. – When Lewis Bainbridge learned to fly helicopters for the U.S. military in the 1970s, the fuel crises limited his flight time and he had to wait an hour to get 10 gallons of gasoline. In recent years, Ian Macwan witnessed the security risks surrounding fuel convoys in Iraq where he was deployed.

Today, both veterans are eager to see America reduce its dependence on foreign oil and increase U.S. employment opportunities. “Ian and I have very different jobs, but we are part of America’s exciting and growing bioeconomy,” Bainbridge says. 

A United Soybean Board (USB) director, Bainbridge raises soybeans in South Dakota. Macwan is one of several veterans working  in New York City for SYNLawn, which uses a soy-based backing called BioCel™ in its artificial grass. They join U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and an array of biobased stakeholders in Washington, D.C. today at the USB Biobased Stakeholders’ Dialogue held at the USDA headquarters.

Vilsack will keynote the event where USB will premiere a video featuring Macwan, Bainbridge and other military veterans who are employed in the bioeconomy. Filmed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the video highlights a pioneering urban vineyard, Rooftop Reds, where SYNLawn New York’s military veteran employees installed the soy-backed artificial grass. The video and other details on the event are available here.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits with Purdue students Harshit Kapoor and Andrew Cameron, about “Soy Pods” – their soy-based laundry detergent pods, during the 2016 USB Biobased Stakeholders’ Dialogue in Washington, DC.  The students earned third place in the 2016 Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance.

Also at the Dialogue, biobased manufacturers will display their diverse products and speakers from across the federal government will share their success stories using products from USDA’s BioPreferred® Program. According to the White House Council on

Environmental Quality, the federal government’s footprint includes 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and $445 billion in spending annually on goods and services. Therefore, its actions to reduce pollution, support renewable energy, and operate more efficiently can make a significant impact on national emissions and more.

These purchases can also significantly benefit the U.S. economy, according to a 2014 economic impact analysis that USDA commissioned under the 2014 Farm Bill.  Led by specialists at Duke and North Carolina State universities, the study showed America’s bioeconomy contributed $369 billion to the U.S. economy in a single year and displaced 300 million gallons of petroleum.

Through the Federal BioPreferred program, the USDA designates categories of biobased products for a federal procurement preference. Minimum biobased content standards are established for each product category. Currently, USDA has 97 BioPreferred-designated product categories required for preferred federal purchasing. For more information about the program, and the program’s voluntary biobased product certification and labeling initiative, visit

Filmed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a new USB video highlights a pioneering urban vineyard, Rooftop Reds, where SYNLawn New York’s military veteran employees installed the soy-backed artificial grass. “Our family grows soybeans that reduce our nation’s environmental footprint, create jobs and cut America’s dependence on petroleum,” said Bainbridge. “U.S. soybeans make protein and oil for livestock feed and human food throughout the world. An abundant supply is left for hundreds of biobased products.”

Often called the “miracle bean,” U.S. soybeans can collectively remove from the atmosphere the carbon equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road in just one year.  Each year, nearly 600,000 independent U.S. farmers plant, grow, and harvest trillions of soybeans. This video tells the story.

Because of the potential for biobased products to create new markets for soybeans, U.S. soybean farmers have invested millions of dollars to research, test and promote biobased products. Much of this work was done through the United Soybean Board, which is composed of 70 U.S. soybean farmers appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to invest soybean checkoff funds. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services has oversight responsibilities for the soybean checkoff.