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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says biofuels are playing a growing role in the civilian aircraft and airline industry and in the military.

Vilsack spoke Monday at a business roundtable meeting at Chicago-based Boeing Co.

Vilsack says the U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages biofuels research to help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and to lay a solid foundation for a strong rural economy.

He says USDA has invested more than $80 million in research focused on developing aviation biofuels. This year, two commercial airlines flew their first domestic flights powered by biofuels.

And USDA with the Department of Energy and the U.S. Navy are investing up to $510 million during the next three years to produce advanced aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.

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