WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that a U.S. Department of Agriculture voluntary product certification and labeling program for biobased products will take effect tomorrow. The 2008 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a voluntary program that will clearly identify biobased products made from renewable resources, and will promote the increased sale and use of these products in the commercial market and for consumers. Senator Brown supported the inclusion of the Biobased Labeling Program in the 2008 Farm Bill.  

“Biobased labeling helps Ohio's farmers and consumers by highlighting the new and innovative products that are made from agricultural commodities, Brown said. USDA's BioPreferred Program, which I was proud to support in the Farm Bill, will increase the sale of Ohio crops, create jobs, and bolster Ohio's standing as a leader in agriculture and technology.”

“The Ohio Soybean Association is very excited that the final rule for USDA's BioPreferred Program is being published this week," said Jeff Wuebker, Ohio Soybean Association president and Darke County soybean farmer.  "This program will benefit a growing biobased product industry both nationally and statewide.  A large number of biobased products are made in Ohio from soybeans, so expanding this market is a benefit to all Ohio soybean farmers, and can help create economic development and jobs for all Ohioans.  We thank Senator Brown for his support of this program and other biobased initiatives."

Biobased products are those composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients, including soybeans or other 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.  The final rule applies to product manufacturers and distributors who wish to label products with USDA’s distinctive product mark.

With the launch of the USDA biobased product label, the BioPreferred program is now comprised of two parts:  a biobased product procurement preference program for Federal agencies, and a voluntary labeling initiative for the broad-scale marketing of biobased products.

USDA has already designated approximately 5,100 biobased products for preferred purchasing by Federal agencies.  The new label will make identification of these products easier for Federal buyers, as well as state buyers, and will increase awareness of these high-value products in other markets.

USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products currently being manufactured in the United States and that the growing industry as a whole is responsible for over 100,000 jobs. Ohio has the potential to be a leader in growing biobased product businesses and jobs in the state, as well as supporting its farmers.

Brown has held more 150 roundtables throughout the state, including a weeklong series of roundtables focused exclusively on agriculture. In July of 2008, Brown received the President’s Award from the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) for his work on the 2008 farm bill. The award is given each year to a single member of Congress who has actively worked and raised awareness on grower issues. Brown has also received the “Friend of Farm Bureau” Award from the Ohio Farm Bureau and the “Golden Triangle” Award from the Ohio Farmers Union. These awards are given to members of Congress who have supported issues important to Ohio agriculture. He is the first Ohioan in more than 40 years to serve on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.