The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) BioPreferred Program has issued a final rule to initiate a voluntary product certification and labeling program for qualifying biobased products. 76 Fed. Reg. 3,790 (1/20/11). The program is authorized by section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

Section 9002 requires federal agencies to develop procurement programs that give purchasing preference to biobased products and requires USDA to establish a voluntary labeling program under which manufacturers and vendors of biobased products may use a “USDA Certified Biobased Product” label.

The labeling program is intended to encourage the purchase and use of biobased products. Through the BioPreferred Program, USDA has designated approximately 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by federal agencies.

Biobased products are those composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients—renewable plant, animal, marine, or forestry materials. The new label indicates that the product has been certified to meet USDA standards for a prescribed amount of biobased content.