BioPreferred Labeling Program Proposed


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its proposed BioPreferred labeling program, a voluntary program for manufacturers that will help consumers identify bio-based products, including a variety of lubricants and greases.

The federally administered BioPreferred program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill as a preferred procurement program to increase purchase and use of biobased products within the federal government. The 2008 Farm Bill expanded the programs scope to promote the sale of biobased products in other sectors, and reauthorized the voluntary labeling program for broad-scale consumer marketing of biobased products. A BioPreferred item meets or exceeds USDA-established minimum bio-based content requirements.

The procurement programs final regulations include a wide variety of lubricants and greases, and their designated minimum bio-based content percentage. Examples include hydraulic fluids in mobile equipment and stationary equipment, transformer fluid, penetrating lubricants, 2-cycle engine oils, several types of greases, firearm lubricants, and several types of metalworking fluids. The proposed fifth round of procurement regulations, not yet finalized, includes several types of lubricants, such as chain and cable lubricants, corrosion preventives, forming lubricants and gear lubricants.

United Soybean Board consultant Karen Edwards said her organizations public opinion research showed the general public was not aware of bio-based products. So that label is really going to be quite valuable, not only in increasing the federal procurement but in reaching out to the private sector, Edwards continued.

She is also part of the Biobased Products Coalition, an organization that includes manufacturer Cargill. Cargill has lubricant products that meet the BioPreferred standards established in all five rounds of designation, the company said in a statement. These include mobil and stationary hydraulic oils, transformer fluid, 2-cycle engine oils, grease, bar and chain oil, and gear lubes.

Edwards pointed out that the National Association of Counties recently passed a resolution that they want to buy green products from the federal bio-based program. Arkansas and Indiana already have legislation follow the federal program, she added, and Ohio has introduced a similar bill. Theres a lot going on in this area so this label will be very valuable in helping drive that, she added.

Finalizing the label rule will require reviewing comments, getting USDA clearance, and sending the proposal back before the Office of Management and Budget. Its our intent by this time next year, hopefully much before that, that were going to have a final label on the street, BioPreferred program manager Ron Buckhalt told Lube Report.

He said the program does not yet know how long it will take to process applications to the labeling program. Well work on things as they come in, he continued. They will be immediately looked at, evaluated, and responded to in short order. We wont know until we get the first one in. As long as they meet the parameters, and everythings in shape, we can move expeditiously.

Buckhalt said BioPreferred needs to be careful to ensure the label is not meaningless. There has to be a lot of information conveyed in a very small space, he noted. Thats our job, to do the marketing so people understand what it is, and whats going on. Therell be a web site supporting all this. We are going to do a lot of work on that, and a lot of that will go on long before the label ever hits the street.

He emphasized that the labeling will also need to be enforced. If people abuse the label, we pull it, he emphasized. Thats the teeth we have. They can either clean up their act and reapply, or not.

More information about BioPreferreds proposed labeling rule is available at Interested parties can submit comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 29. To submit comments, visit

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