Bioproducts could put agriculture back into economic picture

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Recommendations from the Ohio Agriculture to Chemicals, Polymers and Advanced Materials Task Force, also known as the Bioproducts Task Force, have made their way to Gov. Ted Strickland and the Ohio General Assembly.

The task force was created by House Bill 233 to identify ways in which Ohio can become a leader in the bioproducts industry by linking the state’s $98 billion food and agriculture industry with its $49 billion chemical and polymer industries.

New allies

“Never before in our history has a commitment to renewable energy been as important, or as necessary,” said Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, who also serves as director of the Ohio Department of Development.

“Ohio’s economic sustainability is at the intersection of our historic agricultural strengths, our burgeoning advanced materials industry, and our innovative entrepreneurial community.”

Ohio’s research laboratories, both public and private, are developing new bioproducts, such as high performance rubber made from Russian dandelion — a crop that could be grown in Ohio.

Key players

The Ohio Department of Agriculture, led by Director Robert Boggs, chaired the Bioproducts Task Force.

Other task force members included the Ohio Department of Development, the governor’s energy adviser, state lawmakers, representatives of Ohio’s agricultural, chemical and polymer industries, and the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center.

Back to the future

“Over one hundred and fifty years ago, it was agriculture that met our food, energy, and material needs,” Boggs said.

“Now, as the surging demands upon limited petroleum supplies push oil prices to skyrocketing levels, I am convinced that our agricultural industry will again be a key driver to lead us into a new era of independence from petroleum.”

Suggestions

Based upon its findings, the task force unanimously approved 11 key recommendations. Examples of the recommendations include:

– Creating an Agbioproducts Technology Center to help facilitate greater statewide coordination in developing Ohio’s bioproducts industry.

– Improving the understanding of market potential by conducting an in-depth analysis of the input and output of Ohio’s existing chemical and polymer companies, as well as a study of the technological and economic feasibility of producing bioproducts.

– Expanding Ohio’s capacity to refine the materials needed to grow the bioproducts market.

– Increasing Ohio’s support for entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses.

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