This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 12, 2009

Agriculture Department Proposes Consumer Label for Biobased Products

More than 15,000 biobased consumer products now available, ranging from glycerin hand soap to home furnishings such as jute rugs, could soon appear on store shelves with special "BioPreferred" labels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently proposed the voluntary labeling program that would apply to qualifying non-food goods made wholly or significantly of biological ingredients such as renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials. This new designation won't include biofuels, however. The BioPreferred program encourages interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rule by September 29. See the USDA press release, and for a complete list of qualifying products, peruse the catalog on the USDA's BioPreferred Web site.

The USDA is also aiming to increase the biological ingredients that go into making biofuel. Specifically, the agency offered $20 million in financial incentives last month to help biorefineries heat or power at their facilities with biomass rather than fossil fuels. Such a switch could lower the greenhouse gas impacts of producing the biofuels. Applications are due by November 1 for the incentives, which are provided as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill also established the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. On Monday, the USDA announced its selection of 365 recipients of more than $15 million in loans and grants under the new program. See the USDA press releases on the biorefinery funds and the loans and grants, as well as the Notice of Funding Availability for the biorefinery incentives (PDF 77 KB). Download Adobe Reader.