February 21, 2012 -- U.S. President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum today which sets forth a new, bio-based products initiative. Directing federal agencies to significantly increase the purchase of bio-based products over the next two years, the memorandum was issued to the heads of executive departments and agencies.
As part of his "We Can't Wait" program, the President said this initiative will create jobs and drive innovation where bio-based products are grown and manufactured. The bio-based products sector marries the two most important economic engines for rural America: agriculture and manufacturing.
2002 Farm Bill
This new initiative is actually an enhancement of the BioPreferred Program established by the 2002 Farm Bill. The new directive will result in a 50 percent increase in the number of new products that are designated as bio-based. Bio-based products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases. I can only hope that the initiative will include bio-based plastic, known as bioplastics.
"President Obama understands that a strong American economy is tied to a healthy, vibrant rural economy," said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who chairs the White House Rural Council. "The actions we are taking will bring new economic investments to our rural communities, to ensure the people who live in these towns have a better, brighter future."
Bio-Based Products Defined
The Memorandum, which can be read in it's entirety by clicking the link above, is laid out in eight sections, which details the actions to be taken. Section 8, item (c) states: For purposes of this memorandum, "biobased product" shall have the meaning set forth in section 8101(4) of title 7, United States Code.
The Code states: The term, "biobased product" means a product determined by the Secretary to be a commercial or industrial product (other than food or feed) that is composed, in whole or significant part, of biological products or renewable domestic agricultural materials (including plant, animal and marine materials) or forestry materials. (1)
In response to the Presidents' initiative, the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) urged USDA to recognize all paper and wood products as "biobased". Donna Harman, President and CEO of AF&PA stated, “The forest products industry is a leader in sustainability and makes renewable, recyclable biobased products that provide over 900,000 U.S. jobs supporting families and communities in mostly rural areas across our country."
CEO Harman further stated, “To grow and protect rural jobs, President Obama issued a memorandum to increase the amount of biobased products used by the federal government. Even though the statute that authorizes USDA’s biobased programs clearly defines products made from forestry materials as biobased, to date, the department has failed to recognize most of our products. We look forward to working with the Secretary to ensure all wood and paper products are included in this expanded program, which is intended to recognize the sustainable and biobased nature of our products.”
The American Forest & Paper Association is the national trade association of the forest products industry, representing pulp, paper, packaging and wood products manufacturers, and forest landowners. Learn more about the organization by visiting af&pa.org.
PBBR will continually follow up on this new initiative and report to you the results and progress of the President's initiative.