USDA Program Guidelines

On January 11, 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its “Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement” (Federal Register (70 FR 1792). These guidelines implement provisions of Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Investment Act of 2002, which require Federal agencies to establish affirmative procurement programs for preferred purchasing of biobased products.  The Guidelines:

  • Establish a requirement for each Federal agency to develop an affirmative procurement program for biobased products to include:
    • A preference program for purchasing designated items;
    • A promotion program to promote the preference program; and
    • Provisions for the annual review and monitoring of the effectiveness of the procurement program.
  • Describe the procedures it will use to designate items for preferred procurement and to set the minimum biobased content level for such items;
  • Establish a requirement that Federal agencies ensure their product procurement specifications are consistent with the Guidelines;
  • Establish the requirements that manufacturers and vendors need to follow, and information they need to provide, to obtain preferred procurement status for their products;
  • Sets forth the criteria the agency will use to fund product testing for biobased content, life cycle costs, environmental and health benefits, and performance.

On a July 27, 2006, the USDA issued an interim final rule (Federal Register (71 FR 42572) amending the “Guidelines for Designating Biobased Products for Federal Procurement.” The interim final rule revised the Guidelines to include contractors of Federal agencies as well as Federal agencies, to remove “incidental and unrelated” purchases from the scope of the preferred purchasing program, and to clarify existing USDA policy that biobased products from any “designated country”, consistent with U.S. international trade obligations, would receive the same procurement preference as domestic biobased products.