While speaking with nearly 4,000 attendees at the 86th annual American Farm Bureau Federation Meeting, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman announced the final rule to implement a program of preferred procurement of biobased products by federal agencies.
The Secretary, in potentially one of her last speaking engagements as the acting Secretary of Agriculture, heralded the program as the final major program to be implemented of the 2002 farm bill, which included nearly 500 provisions. What remains, with minor exceptions, are follow-on requirements to continue to carry out programs.
The program requires all federal agencies to preferentially purchase biobased products that have been designated by USDA as eligible under this program.
"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 in her remarks. "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 new rule establishes the process by which the Department of Agriculture will designate "items" for preferred procurement by federal agencies. Items are generic groupings of biobased products, such as biobased greases, biodiesel and ethanol when used as additives, hydraulic fluids, biobased polymers, industrial solvents, biobased fertilizers and cutting oils. Federal agencies must assure within one year after the publication of this final rule that their procurement specifications require the preference of biobased products consistent with this rule.
To date, USDA has identified 83 items on which it is developing test information to support designation by rulemaking and are available for viewing at: www.biobased.oce.usda.gov.