DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A program designed to promote ethanol and biodiesel fuels will be expanded to companies using plant-based plastic, rubber and fiber in manufacturing products such as bottles and packaging, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Wednesday.

The USDA is proposing in a new agency rule to add manufacturers of these plant-based products to a loan guarantee program that has provided more than $844 million for 10 biofuel projects since 2008. Loan guarantees allow companies building new plants to borrow money at lower interest rates. Under the proposed new rules loans of up to $250 million will be offered to projects involving development of plant-based materials for manufacturing, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

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