The U.S. federal government will increase its emphasis on purchases of bio-based products as a way to bring jobs to rural areas, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
Federal workers will also get training in buying items labeled “BioPreferred,” Vilsack said today on a conference call with reporters. More than 3,000 companies now create about 20,000 bio-based products including cleaning agents, paints, lubricants and personal-care goods from renewable sources, Vilsack said.
The goal is to create “more contracts, more opportunities for these bio-based businesses,” Vilsack said on the call, which included Commerce Secretary John Bryson. “That should lead to more jobs in rural America.”
The BioPreferred labeling program, begun in 2009, identifies products make from renewable sources such as corn, with a goal of lowering petroleum consumption. To qualify for the designation, an item must contain enough renewable material to meet or exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture-specified standards.
The government also said it will provide $15 million in awards for projects that promote regional job creation, and increase efforts to help community and technical colleges train new health information-technology workers.