USDA Begins Process to Designate Preferred Biobased Products

July 13, 2005

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has started its process to designate preferred biobased products for purchase by federal agencies. Under the 2002 Farm Bill, the USDA's Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program will identify more than 110 categories of products—the USDA calls them "items"—and then determine which biobased products are available within each of those categories.

Under a proposed rule published on July 5th, the USDA will begin by tackling the following six categories: mobile equipment hydraulic fluids, urethane roof coatings, water tank coatings, diesel fuel additives, penetrating lubricants, and bedding, bed linens, and towels. For each category, the USDA has been able to identify at least one manufacturer of biobased products. For most of the categories, the USDA was unable to determine the potential market, but the agency did note that DOE anticipates a large potential market for the use of biodiesel as a diesel fuel additive.

Once the final rule is issued, manufacturers of qualifying biobased products that fall within the six categories will be invited to post their product and contact information on the program's Web site. Federal agencies looking to procure products in those categories will then have to give preference to the biobased products. The USDA is accepting comments on the first six proposed "items" through September 6th. See the USDA press release, the program Web site, and the proposed rule.