Marie Wheat serves as the Industry Economist for the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred® Program, a federal procurement program that requires all federal agencies to buy and use biobased products in categories designated by USDA. The program also supports a voluntary certification and labeling initiative designed to assist consumers in identifying biobased products and verifying their content.
At the BioPreferred Program, Marie oversees the regulatory rule-making process, procurement outreach and education, and manages the program’s economic studies. She recently managed a Report to Congress on the economic impact of the U.S. biobased products industry. The study, the first of its kind, concluded that in 2013, the total contribution of the U.S. biobased products industry to GDP was $369 billion and four million American jobs. To date, the study has been downloaded from the program website over 385,000 times.
Marie is also responsible for worldwide interactions with regulators, key stakeholders, and industry and business associations to advance the biobased products market. She wrote and negotiated the inclusion of the first biobased annex into the Transatlantic Economic Council proceedings and continues to work internationally with the European Commission and other government leaders on standards harmonization, public procurement policies, and the mutual recognition of biobased labels with the goal of expanding markets for biobased products.
Prior to working for the BioPreferred Program, she worked in USDA’s Departmental Management Agency, managing the USDA Sustainable Operations Council, a partnership of Senior Executives throughout the agency. Prior to USDA, she owned her own business consulting for the Peace Corps, the Fund for Neglected Tropical Diseases, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute. She graduated from Clemson University in her home state of South Carolina and currently serves on Clemson’s Alumni Board of Directors.