The Biobased Products Coalition (BPC) commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s introduction of the “USDA Certified Biobased Product” voluntary labeling program. The National Corn Growers Association is part of the BPC, which has advocated for the implementation of this labeling program. It is an important milestone toward greater use of biobased products by government agencies as well as the many businesses and consumers seeking American-made products that reduce dependence on foreign oil and benefit the environment.
Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) coauthored the biobased provisions in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. That landmark legislation recognized the benefits of biobased products for America’s environment, energy security and economy, particularly the rural economy. It called on federal agencies to buy biobased products, which would serve as a market driver for the nation’s transition to these products that use renewable agricultural resources to reduce the petroleum content in thousands of products.
The Farm Bill also required USDA to work with other government agencies to launch a labeling program for biobased products that would increase awareness of the products as well as make it easier to identify them for purchase.
The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 expanded the federal biobased program. It also directed USDA to designate intermediate ingredients and feedstocks that are or can be used to produce items (including complex products such as furniture with biobased foam, vehicle parts with biobased plastics, electronic products with biobased casings) that will be eligible for the biobased purchasing preference.
The federal biobased initiative is also an important model for state and other governments. Arkansas, Indiana and Ohio have legislation that requires state agencies to buy biobased products that are designated through the federal biobased program. Midwestern Governors have launched a biobased procurement initiative and counties across the nation have started using biobased products as well.
Biobased product manufacturers and allied organizations launched the Biobased Products Coalition in 2007 to focus and coordinate industry efforts to improve the federal biobased program and promote other favorable federal policies. The BPC provides a forum for biobased manufacturers of all sizes as well as farmer and other trade associations to present a unified industry voice on federal policy.
ASA Supports New Labeling Program
The American Soybean Association has also thrown its support behind the voluntary biobased product labeling program. ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean farmer from Lafayette, Indiana, says this new label will help consumers identify biobased products made from renewable resources, and will promote the increased sale and use of these products, including many soy-based products, in the commercial market.
Expanding markets for soybeans and soy products is a priority for ASA. To further this goal and support and expand federal programs that promote the use of biobased products, ASA and other farm trade associations and allied industry formed the Biobased Products Coalition in 2007.
Harkin Says New Label Good For Many
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin points out the new Biobased Label will affect more that fuels. Harkin says, businesses across America are beginning to manufacture thousands of materials and products using agricultural and forestry crops and byproducts known as biobased feedstocks. The Senator points out, – it can be easy to forget that a large share of imported petroleum is not just used in cars and trucks – it is used to make thousands of products.
These include products such as lotions, cleaning supplies and a wide variety of fabrics and plastics. Under this new rule, companies can put the USDA biobased label on their qualifying products so consumers will know what percentage of an item is biobased and can select to use products made from natural materials. Harkin says, – thanks to the ‘Biobased’ label, consumers can pick products they know are good for the economy and environment.
NFU Supports New Certified Biobased Label
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says – NFU is pleased – with the release of the ‘USDA Certified Biobased Product’ label. Johnson says – this new labeling initiative will help both manufacturers and consumers to identify biobased products, which are commercial or industrial products whose main ingredients are renewable plant or animal materials. Johnson believes – the labeling initiative will also provide increased value for farmers and ranchers as they produce commodities for biobased products.
NFU policy supports fully funding the BioPreferred program, as well as ensuring the federal government is a leader in procuring biobased products. The 2002 Farm Bill first created federal biobased provisions and called on federal agencies to buy biobased products.