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New Agreement Promotes Product Development from Crops / February 23, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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New Agreement Promotes Product Development from Crops

By Sandy Miller Hays
February 23, 1998

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined agricultural producers' groups and the U.S. Department of Energy in signing an agreement aimed at stimulating research and development of new products made from agricultural commodities such as corn and soybeans.

"This new agreement is critically important to agriculture in America," said Secretary Glickman. "The USDA research program has a proud history of developing new technologies that have added significant value to commodities and created economic returns that have benefited all Americans."

The agreement, called "Plant/Crop-Based Renewable Resources 2020," was signed at the 1998 Commodity Classic in Long Beach, Calif. The 1998 Commodity Classic is the third annual joint meeting of the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association.

"This public-private sector partnership brings together the technical capability and entrepreneurial spirit that will capture even better value for farmers, rural areas and consumers throughout the world," said Edward B. Knipling, associate administrator of USDA's Agricultural Research Service, who signed the agreement on behalf of Glickman.

ARS is the chief research agency of USDA.

Knipling cited several recent USDA research successes at turning crops into valuable new products, including highly biodegradable printing ink made from 100 percent soy oil; a process to turn low- value corn hull fiber into a healthy new oil that may lower cholesterol levels; and starch-based plastics.

The new research agreement encourages joint planning of long-term research between industry, trade associations, federal agencies, universities and national laboratories to find new ways to use crops, trees, other plant material and agricultural wastes to manufacture products such as plastics, paints and adhesives.

Knipling said USDA's budget for the 1999 fiscal year calls for more than $100 million in research on new uses of agricultural commodities for food and non- food applications.

The groups that have pledged to sign the agreement include the American Soybean Association; the National Association of Wheat Growers; the National Corn Growers Association; JR Simplot, a potato growers' conglomerate based in Idaho; the Agricultural Research Institute, Applied Carbochemicals, Arkenol, California Institute of Food and Agriculture Research; Iowa State University's Center for Crop Utilization Research; the University of Washington's Center for International Trade in Forest Products; the Center for Waste Reduction Technologies; the Corn Refiners Association; Dow; Genencor; International Polyol Chemicals; Monsanto; and Winrock International.

The agreement will be in effect initially for two years, but can be extended.

Scientific contact: Richard M. Parry, Jr., Assistant Administrator, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Washington, D.C., phone (202) 720-3973, fax (202) 720-5427, rparry@ars.usda.gov.

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