Global Agriculture

USDA Joins Government-Wide Sustainable Aviation Fuels Grand Challenge

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10 September 2021, US: Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined the government-wide Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) Grand Challenge to meet 100% of U.S. aviation fuel demand by 2050.

The initiative was announced during a White House roundtable with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg. USDA has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (PDF, 257 KB) with DOE and DOT to reduce costs, enhance sustainability, and expand SAF production.

“USDA and American agriculture will make sustainable aviation possible in concert with our federal and industry partners and their stakeholders,” said Secretary Vilsack. “We can expand our ability to power the nation’s aviation sector with fuel grown right here at home by hard-working Americans, while creating economic opportunity for American farmers, business owners and rural communities. Participating in SAF supply chains is also a big win for the aviation business, consumers and the planet.”

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Through the MOU, USDA will provide continued research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies necessary for identifying innovative solutions that will enable the ambitious government-wide commitment of producing 35 billion gallons of SAF per year by 2050. It also establishes a near-term goal of 3 billion gallons per year as a milestone for 2030.

To achieve the goals of the MOU, USDA has committed to continuing investments and building expertise in sustainable crop and other biomass production system and supply chains; investing in biomanufacturing capability, workforce development, and community and individual education; providing outreach and technology transfer to producers processors and communities to accelerate adoption, participation, and commercialization support; and collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal partners to the MOU on steps to expedite regulatory approvals of new SAF pathways for crops and other feedstocks that continue to reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas reductions.

USDA will work to ensure farmers, foresters, small businesses and rural economies benefit from these opportunities with attention to cost, quality and quantity of agricultural-based feedstock for producing SAF. The Department will conduct research to support biomass feedstock genetic development, sustainable crop and forest management, and post-harvest supply chain logistics such as through transportation, storage, preprocessing and regional supply chain integration, optimization and greenhouse gas reductions.

USDA will also provide expertise and support to the greenhouse gas and economic modeling efforts associated with the initiative. Work in this area is vital to ensuring the conservation and land stewardship practices America’s farmers, foresters and ranchers already employ are fully incorporated into the goals and outcomes of the challenge.

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