WASHINGTON — Products certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred program will soon have a seal of approval to catch buyers’ attention.
USDA released a final rule Jan. 19 to initiate a voluntary product certification and labeling program for qualifying biobased products.
This new label will clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources. USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States.
Biobased products are those composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients — renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. The new label indicates the product has been certified to meet USDA standards for a prescribed amount of biobased content.
The label announcement was good news to farmers.
“A significant number of biobased products are made in Ohio from soybeans, so expanding this market is a benefit to all Ohio soybean farmers and can also help create economic development and jobs for all Ohioans.” said Jeff Wuebker, Ohio Soybean Association president and Darke County soybean farmer.
Ohio was also the first state to enact a Biopreferred purchasing program that dictates state agencies purchase bioproducts when available. The state law requires public institutions, agencies and state-supported entities to give purchasing preference to biobased products when a biobased alternative is available.
Program branching out
With the launch of the USDA biobased product label, the BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts: a biobased product procurement preference program for federal agencies, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products.
Through implementation of the BioPreferred program, USDA has already designated approximately 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by federal agencies. The new label will make identification of these products easier for federal buyers, and will increase awareness of these high-value products in other markets.
USDA’s BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 farm bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products within the federal government and the commercial market. Congress reauthorized and strengthened the program in the 2008 farm bill to further promote the sale of biobased products.