Public Meeting on BioPreferred Voluntary Labeling Program

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, starting at 1 p.m. EST for interested stakeholders to provide an open forum to solicit feedback on the establishment of the BioPreferred voluntary labeling program.  This program will allow USDA to authorize manufacturers and vendors of qualifying biobased products to use a “USDA Certified Biobased Product” label.

For those of us who make our soap using primarily biobased products, and who would prefer to be able to easily source our organic and sustainable growth oils, and who would benefit from being able to use both the label and the preferred procurement channels, this may be worth spending an hour or two on the phone.

The meeting will take place at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Building, Jefferson Auditorium, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC  20250. You may participate via an audio bridge by calling 1 (800) 857-5233, verbal pass code “Town Hall.”  For technical assistance, call (202) 720-8560.  All callers using the above pass code will be placed in “listen-only” mode during the presentation of information.  Participants using the audio bridge may verbally join the “Question and answer” portion of the meeting, by pressing *1 on a touch-tone telephone or by e-mailing questions or comments during the meeting to biopreferred@usda.gov.

What’s it all about?

Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA) (Public Law 107-171) established a program for the procurement of biobased products by Federal agencies and a voluntary program for labeling of biobased products.  USDA refers to the program for the Federal procurement of biobased products and the voluntary program for labeling of biobased products, collectively, as the BioPreferred Program.  The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-246) continues and expands provisions related to the BioPreferred Program.

Under the voluntary labeling program, the Department will authorize manufacturers and vendors of biobased products to use the label “USDA Certified Biobased Product.”  In establishing the voluntary labeling program, USDA must identify criteria for determining which products may qualify to receive the label and specific requirements for how the label can be used.

USDA has one primary objective in establishing the voluntary labeling program:  to encourage the purchase of biobased products.  USDA believes that products carrying the label will become readily recognizable as biobased products, distinct from those that do not carry the label.  Further, as the program matures and the label is used over time, consumers will recognize that products carrying the label meet certain criteria that set them apart from other biobased products.

The meeting will solicit information on who should be allowed to use the label, what percentage of the product must contain biopreffered materials to qualify, what information must the labels contain, and qualifying which products qualify for preferred procurement.  To learn more about the BioPreferred program, visit the Web site at www.biopreferred.gov.  For more information on the meeting, contact Mrs. Shana Love, Departmental Administration, Room 209-A Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC  20250-0103; telephone: (202) 205-4008; fax: (202) 720-2191; e-mail: biopreferred @ usda.gov.

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