USDA Biobased Products Preferred Status List

Federal agencies that purchase biobased products will have to compare their orders to a government approved list of manufacturers starting in 2006. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the publication of a final rule for the 2002 Farm Bill that will establish provisions for the Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program.

This program requires all federal agencies that are in the market for biobased products to select only those approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “The Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program creates a preference across the entire federal government to purchase biobased products, when practical, based on price, availability and performance,” Veneman said while at the 2005 American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting. “This rule promotes energy independence and the use of environmentally sustainable energy from biological sources, while at the same time creating new demand for agricultural commodities and new business investment and job growth in rural America.” The rule establishes a process for the USDA to use when designating specific biobased items for the purchase list. Items are generic groupings of greases, fuel additives such as biodiesel and ethanol, hydraulic fluids, polymers, industrial solvents, fertilizers and cutting oils. Federal agencies must have purchasing guidelines for listed biobased products in place by January 11, 2006. A subset of rules, which will be developed by the USDA, will guide the agency in deciding which products to list as acceptable. A draft of the rules will be available for public comment before the agency decides on the final set of rules. This process of designating items by rulemaking is expected to extend over the next three years. Once an item is designated within the general groupings, all manufacturers with products that fall within that item may claim preferred procurement status when marketing to federal agencies. To date, the USDA has identified 83 items for test information to support designation by rulemaking. Veneman said that all major elements of the 2002 Farm Bill have been implemented, and have contributed to the strong economic position of U.S. farmers today. What remains, with minor exceptions, are follow-on requirements to continue to carry out programs. “Our goal has been to implement the Farm Bill’s nearly 500 provisions as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Veneman said. “Our staff throughout the country has been up to the challenge, working tirelessly and aggressively to ensure the estimated $180 billion in Farm Bill program benefits over a 10- year period is flowing to producers and other program participants.”

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