Secretary Tom Vilsack announces $10 grant program to create ‘bioproducts’ from agricultural waste

ELY, Iowa (KCRG) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Ely on Tuesday to share the plans of farmers across the country.

After touring Dan and Debbie’s Creamery, Secretary Vilsack announced a $10 million program under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act. He says the administration wants to invest in “biobased products” to increase the use of renewable agricultural materials.

“We need to create a more resilient and stronger food system in this country. We need to have one that complements the commodity-based system we have by allowing small and medium-sized producers to have the opportunity to stay in agriculture and pass it on to the next generation,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack says the funding will create a roadmap for how to create these products that can then become a consumer product and drive economics and sustainability.

“We anticipate and anticipate that a number of state-funded institutions, land-granting universities, will apply for these funds,” he said.

Dan and Debbie’s operations manager, Josie Rozum, says the move is exciting for her family’s farm and other farms like it.

“It’s really important that we come up with practices that will not only improve soil health and cultural practices, but also generate income for different companies, different farmers to be creative and work with other partners,” said Rosum.

Overall, the program aims to secure the future of these farms and other communities across the country.

“Now the challenge is not just to make these programs work, but to make sure that we formulate and shape a farm bill, we listen to what is happening out there in the country, we identify the need that exists, and then let’s start figuring out how to creatively meet that need,” Vilsack said.

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Ryan H. Bowman