DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Products made from crops and livestock will help create job opportunities in Michigan and across the country, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday following a tour of a bio-based lab in suburban Detroit.

Vilsack joined U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow on a tour of Ford Motor Co.'s Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn. He also attended a workshop hosted by the United Soybean Board.

He praised Ford's use of soy-based foam in car seats.

"Replacing a petroleum-based foam reduces our reliance on foreign oil," Vilsack said.

Bio-based manufacturing takes crop and livestock products and weaves them into chemicals, fibers, plastics and other materials. There are more than 3,000 companies in the U.S. that produce about 25,000 products that are bio-based.

"It creates new income opportunities for those who farm and produce," he said.

Vilsack also met Monday with some Michigan farmers and agribusiness operators.

He told The Associated Press that the Obama administration is committed to assisting farmers and businesses who have suffered under a months-long drought and late freeze that damaged much of Michigan's tree fruit industry.

Nearly 220 counties in a dozen drought-stricken states were added last week to the federal government's list of natural disaster areas. All but one of Michigan's 83 counties has received disaster designations.

"Most of the other states didn't have the freeze issue," Vilsack said.