USDA Creates Consumer “Biobased” Product Label

USDA Creates Consumer “Biobased” Product Label

Earlier this month the USDA launched a new “biobased” product label that will help shoppers identify consumer and industrial products that have been either wholly or partially created from farm or forestry crops, rather than fossil fuels. Similar to the USDA’s organic label, biobased should be appearing in stores this spring. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan claimed that the new label would help green consumers, stating, “People like me who go to CVS can shop purposefully.”

Others argued that the USDA’s threshold for biobased is too generous. Current agency mandates allow products with only 25% renewable materials will be labeled biobased. Initial agency plans called for a 51% threshold, but industrial opposition pushed for a lower limit. Merrigan claimed this was a necessary compromise, “We’re looking for that sweet spot where we feel that it launches a program of significant girth… you have to have a 25 percent threshold to achieve this label, which is not insignificant.”

Some of the leaders of the biomaterials industry argued that lowered standards will help undermine consumer confidence in sustainability claims. Some environmental groups also expressed disappointment that high energy biolfuels, like corn-based ethanol, were included in the biobased label. “That’s really unfortunate because globally, the world is moving toward label on life-cycle assessment,” executive director of the Institute for Environmental Research and Education Rita Schenck said. “[The] USDA lost its opportunity to bring agribusiness into the 21st century.”

Despite the opposition, the USDA remains optimistic about the future of the biobased label and claims that it will remain open to future modifications. Developments like this indicate that the future of American economic growth remain tied to the agricultural sector. If you are looking to start or reinvest in a farm or ranch, contact Farm Plus today. Farm loan rates are at historic lows. Contact a representative at Farm Plus for more information, call 866-929-5585 or visit our website for more information.

Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer