Biobased Products Label Announcement Thursday

Rule has support from several groups and individuals.

Published on: Jan 20, 2011

The final rule to initiate a voluntary product certification and labeling program for qualifying biobased products will be published Thursday in the Federal Register. Officials say this new label will clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources, and will promote the increased sale and use of these products in the commercial market and for consumers.

In making the announcement, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan pointed out that today's consumers are increasingly interested in making educated purchasing choices for their families. This label will make those decisions easier by identifying products as biobased. Merrigan says these products have enormous potential to create green jobs in rural communities, add value to agricultural commodities, decrease environmental impacts, and reduce our dependence on imported oil.

With the label announcement, 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. 

Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, points out the new Biobased Label will affect more than 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 that it can be easy to forget that a large share of imported petroleum is not just used in cars and trucks but is also 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.

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, Ind., 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.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says NFU is pleased with the release of the 'USDA Certified Biobased Product' label.

"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 said. "The labeling initiative will also provide increased value for farmers and ranchers as they produce commodities for biobased products."

Also on board with the program is the Biobased Products Coalition, which says the USDA's voluntary Certified Biobased Product labeling program is an important milestone toward greater use of biobased products by government agencies, as well as businesses and consumers seeking American-made products that reduce our dependence on foreign oil and benefit the environment.