It begins with the state’s powerful past – a proud history of agricultural traditions, in which the state’s farmers have long been responsible stewards of the land, handing it down to future generations.

And it builds on another cornerstone of the region – the innovations coming from Indiana institutions like Purdue University. For 150 years, Purdue has delivered advancements to improve both agricultural production and innovation, while developing the people power to realize that potential.

Now, consumer trends are converging to accelerate investment in our country’s bioeconomy. Indiana’s historical advantages in agriculture and innovation well position the state to reap the economic advantages and green jobs that will likely result.

The bioeconomy encompasses products made from renewable inputs, like plants, and organic waste streams, like food waste. It includes the people and businesses who farm, refine, engineer, manufacture, and sell these products, including consumers when they purchase renewable plant-based products or utilize sustainably produced energy.

Already, America’s bioeconomy is powering our nation in a way that many don’t understand. The bioeconomy:

  • Contributes $393 billion in economic activity;
  • Provides 4.2 million American jobs;
  • Drives innovation, with 2,500 certified bioproducts; and
  • Is the leading source of domestic renewable energy in the United States.

Investment in the bioeconomy provides a powerful opportunity to empower rural communities for generations to come. Consider just one feedstock source of the bioeconomy input: dent corn. Indiana has five corn wet mills, each of which annually consume the equivalent of all the corn produced in a fifty mile radius. Then, those mills process that corn into hundreds of products with thousands of uses: foods, fuels, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and industrial products, like the adhesives used in construction materials. Corn wet mills also make feedstocks for renewable chemicals and plastics, which may be recyclable or compostable, a growing industry that will continue to bring green jobs and economic investment from the bioeconomy to towns across Indiana.

To help further achieve the promise of green jobs and economic development, we expect Congress will enact an important bill to enable market based growth of the bioeconomy, the Growing Climate Solutions Act. In an age of hyper-partisanship, thoughtful leaders from both parties have come together to craft this legislation, led by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), with 35 co-sponsors in support.

Companies and organizations – many of which are located in rural America – want to participate in environmentally-friendly procedures like offsetting their emissions through carbon markets. Farmers, foresters, and landowners can help them do so, and reap financial benefits as a result. Unfortunately, the current process can be confusing. Farmers and foresters often hire private parties to help them adopt the specified conservation practices and verify that certain protocols were followed before they can see a financial benefit. Many landowners are new to the process and don’t know where to start or who to trust.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would create an online “one stop shop” of USDA-certified private parties to help farmers generate and sell their carbon credits – ensuring that farmers get fair treatment. The bill also calls for an Advisory Council of agriculture experts, scientists, conservationists, and producers, along with a regular report assessing progress, to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

By investing more in our rural community, we can ensure responsible stewardship of the land, drive innovation, and create jobs in this new and growing industry — tapping into the full potential of the U.S. agriculture sector to lead Indiana towards a greener, more prosperous future. It is an idea so good that it can prompt thoughtful political leaders to work in a bipartisan manner.

John Bode is President & CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, Travis Montoya manages Tate & Lyle’s Lafayette South Plant, and Renato Guerra manages Tate & Lyle’s Lafayette North Plant.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets on
{{ count_down }}