Farm Bill could make things better for biotech

The 2023 U.S. Farm Bill can help drive biomanufacturing by improving federal programs, according to testimony today before the Senate Agriculture Committee, given by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and its member company Geno.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee held a hearing today on rural development and energy programs in the Farm Bill. Dr. Christophe Schilling, CEO and founder of Geno and a member of BIO’s Ag and Environment Governing Board, gave written and in-person testimony. BIO submitted written testimony.

Schilling’s company is a major player in the biomanufacturing space. Geno’s bio-butanediol is a plant sugar-based alternative to a chemical traditionally made with fossil fuels and used in a range of plastics, fibers, and solvents for many sectors—and it will soon be manufactured on an industrial scale in Iowa.

“Supporting U.S.-based biomanufacturing alleviates supply chain disruptions while providing climate solutions,” says Dr. Schilling’s prepared testimony.

Recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill

Geno and BIO recommendations for the Farm Bill include the following:

  • The USDA BioPreferred Program should do more to ensure federal procurement and consumer appreciation of certified biobased products and raw materials. We also need new Commerce Dept. NAICS codes for renewables and biobased products, to measure the growing bioeconomy.
  • The USDA 9003 loan guarantee program, which can fund biorefineries and biomanufacturing infrastructure, should cover all kinds of bio feedstock, have a higher funding cap, and be more streamlined “so that it moves at the pace of business,” explains Dr. Schilling.
  • Carbon modeling must be improved to “measure and verify reductions in emissions and carbon sequestrations at the local farm level,” says BIO.

“Developing and employing domestic feedstocks will help reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign energy and create an energy sector that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and enhances human health through improved air quality,” says BIO’s written testimony. “Federal programs supporting the biobased economy, like the Farm Bill energy title, can foster research, development, demonstration-scale activities, and deployment of renewable, low-carbon energy technologies and send positive signals to the investment community.”

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