Official Press Release: USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development to Keynote Biomass South

MEMPHIS, Tennessee, September 17, 2010 — Biomass South 2010, presented by The Memphis Bioworks® Foundation’s AgBioworks™ Regional Initiative and the Southern Growth Policies Board, is the premier event establishing the South’s leadership position in the critical transformation of the global economy from a fossil fuel economy to a bio-based renewable resource economy.  The conference will be held October 14 and 15 at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn Conference Center.

The basis of the bio-economy is the utilization of renewable biological raw materials called biomass – agricultural crops and forestry materials which can effectively harness solar energy – which can then serve as the building blocks to replace petroleum in many products such as biofuels, green chemicals, novel polymers, and many other materials.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager will deliver the keynote address on October 14.  Mr. Tonsager, who was appointed Under Secretary by President Obama, will be representing USDA’s strategy under Secretary Vilsack, who has been an outspoken proponent of biotechnology and advanced biofuels, focused on game changing ways to create opportunity for rural development.  Tonsager has more than 35 years of agricultural, business, cooperative and financial experience through his work as a farmer, businessman, and community, state and national leader.  The Rural Development division of the USDA has a network of 6,100 employees and 500 offices, a portfolio of business, housing, and infrastructure loans totaling $132 billion, and provides an estimated $20 billion annually to support economic and community development in rural America.

“We are proud to have someone of such stature and experience in agriculture, agbiotech and clean energy as Under Secretary Tonsager join our program.  With the variety of professionals we have assembled for Biomass South, from whatever angle you approach the growth of the bioeconomy, the conference will be of interest,” said D. Steven Bares, president and executive director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation.  “The Southern Region of the United States is poised for leadership in every area of the bioeconomy, and this conference will examine the emerging forces, trends and opportunities across each discipline, from farm to factory and beyond.”

Tonsager is just one highlight in an exciting two-day program which includes participation from companies and organizations including: ArborGen, Buckeye Technologies, Ceres, Chromatin, Duke University, EcoSynthetix, Entira, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Monsanto Company, National Algae Association, National Farmers Union, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, PMC Biogenix, ShowMe Energy, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, University of Memphis, University of Tennessee, Verdant Partners and many more.  Biomass South expects more than 300 attendees from across the Southeastern Region to hear the very best speakers from the worlds of entrepreneurial biobusiness, agriculture, energy, manufacturing, logistics, finance, academia and government.

The inaugural Biomass South conference was held to resounding success in 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Since that time, the interest in, the research on, the entrepreneurship about and the business of Biomass and the Bioeconomy have become more important than ever before.

For more information on Biomass South, and to register, please visit

About AgBioworks:

AgBioworks™ is a non-profit regional initiative founded by Memphis Bioworks Foundation and BioDimensions dedicated to reducing the barriers to introducing new agricultural crops, farmer-owned processing, and new technologies which will result in a strong bioeconomy in the Mississippi Delta. AgBioworks has three regional offices co-located at the Regional Business Innovation Center at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky; Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce in Sikeston, Missouri, and at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee. AgBioworks is also partnering with strong organizations in other states across the region.  Memphis Bioworks Foundation is a non-profit organization leading the collaboration between public, private, academic and government entities to accelerate the growth of the biosciences in the Memphis region. For more information, visit and

About Southern Growth Policies Board:

Southern Growth Policies Board is a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Formed by the region’s governors in 1971, Southern Growth Policies Board develops and advances visionary economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region’s governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors. This unique public-private partnership is devoted to strengthening the South’s economy and creating the highest possible quality of life.  For more information, visit

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