The 2008 Farm Bill defines a biobased product as a commercial or industrial product, other than food or feed that consists primarily of raw agricultural materials, wastes or forestry materials. NIFA is addressing the challenges of the emerging biobased industry with programs that support research, development, demonstration, and pre-commercialization activities.
The Biomass Research and Development Initiative, the Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy Program and the Critical Agricultural Materials Program are all focused exclusively on renewable energy and biobased products. The other programs listed include renewable energy as one topic among several priorities.
Examples of biobased products include biofuels, polymers, lubricants, solvents, composites, and power. It also seeks to improve their competitive value and quality. Biobased products and relevant processing technologies expand the role of agriculture in a number of ways. They offer new areas of focus for agricultural research, new business opportunities, economic development in rural areas, crop diversification, and environmental and performance advantages over traditional industrial products. NIFA seeks to build a scientific knowledge base from which to use agricultural and forestry materials more fully and effectively in nonfood products.