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

January 07, 2004

USDA Proposes Rule to Encourage Federal Purchasing of Bioproducts

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in December a proposed rule that will require federal agencies to purchase biobased products when available. Biobased products displace products produced from petroleum, and could help reduce our nation's dependence on oil imports. To that end, Section 9002 of the 2002 Farm Bill authorized the Federal Biobased Procurement Program, which will require federal agencies to greatly increase their use of biobased industrial products, thereby contributing to the development of a broad range of new biobased products. When the program is fully implemented, agencies will be required to purchase biobased industrial products if their cost is not substantially higher than fossil-energy-based alternatives and if they meet the performance requirements of the federal user.

Under the new proposed rule, the USDA will designate generic groupings of similar bioproducts and will provide federal agencies with information about product availability, price, performance, and environmental and public health benefits. The rule also requires third-party verification of the biobased content of products. See the USDA press release and the Federal Biobased Procurement Program Web site.

The USDA has also awarded a total of $4.3 million in grants to 29 new biomass and renewable energy projects. The grants were part of a $28.7 million grant package announced by USDA on December 11th. See the USDA press release.