[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 131 (Tuesday, July 8, 2008)]
[Pages 38968-38969]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-15411]

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.


Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 131 / Tuesday, July 8, 2008 / 

[[Page 38968]]


Departmental Administration; Public Hearing on BioPreferred 
Voluntary Labeling Program

AGENCY: Departmental Administration, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of public hearing.


SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold a public 
meeting for interested stakeholders to provide an open forum to solicit 
feedback on the establishment of the BioPreferred voluntary labeling 
program. This program will allow USDA to authorize manufacturers and 
vendors of qualifying biobased products to use a ``USDA Certified 
Biobased Product'' label.

DATES: The public hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, from 
1 p.m. to approximately 5 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will take place at the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, South Building, Jefferson Auditorium, 1400 Independence 
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250.
    Pre-registration for this meeting is not required. However, for 
security purposes and to facilitate a smooth entry into a Federal 
facility, attendees may provide their names in advance as spelled on 
government issued identification via e-mail to [email protected]. 
Additionally, attendees are encouraged to gain entry into the building 
at Wing 7 on the corner of 14th Street and Independence Avenue, SW., 
and will be required to present government issued identification.
    Those unable to attend the public meeting in person may participate 
via an audio bridge by calling 1 (800) 857-5233, verbal pass code 
``Town Hall.'' For technical assistance, call (202) 720-8560. All 
callers using the above pass code will be placed in ``listen-only'' 
mode during the presentation of information. Participants using the 
audio bridge may verbally join the ``Question and answer'' portion of 
the meeting, by pressing *1 on a touch-tone telephone or by e-mailing 
questions or comments during the meeting to [email protected].
    Written comments may be submitted through Friday, August 1, 2008, 
to [email protected]. Copies of the meeting agenda may be viewed at 
http://greening.usda.gov or by contacting Mrs. Shana Love at the postal 
address, e-mail address, or phone listed below.

Administration, Room 209-A, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, 
SW., Washington, DC 20250-0103; telephone (202) 205-4008; fax (202) 
720-2191; e-mail [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural 
Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA) (Pub. L. 107-171) established a program 
for the procurement of biobased products by Federal agencies and a 
voluntary program for labeling of biobased products. USDA refers to the 
program for the Federal procurement of biobased products and the 
voluntary program for labeling of biobased products, collectively, as 
the BioPreferred Program. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 
2008 (Pub. L. 110-246) continues and expands provisions related to the 
BioPreferred Program.
    Under the voluntary labeling program, the Department will authorize 
manufacturers and vendors of biobased products to use the label ``USDA 
Certified Biobased Product.'' In establishing the voluntary labeling 
program, USDA must identify criteria for determining which products may 
qualify to receive the label and specific requirements for how the 
label can be used.
    USDA has one primary objective in establishing the voluntary 
labeling program: To encourage the purchase of biobased products. USDA 
believes that products carrying the label will become readily 
recognizable as biobased products, distinct from those that do not 
carry the label. Further, as the program matures and the label is used 
over time, consumers will recognize that products carrying the label 
meet certain criteria that set them apart from other biobased products.
    In establishing the voluntary labeling program, USDA is seeking 
information from interested stakeholders in the following areas:
    1. Who can apply for the label.
    USDA is considering allowing both manufacturers and vendors of 
biobased products to apply for use of the label for their products. 
USDA is interested in comments on whether it is appropriate to include 
vendors as an entity eligible to apply the label, as some of the 
requirements associated with approval for use of the label will require 
information generally only available to the manufacturer. However, 
vendors may have more incentive to sell products carrying the label 
than the product manufacturer. USDA thus believes allowing vendors to 
apply for the label could further promote biobased products.
    2. Applicable minimum biobased contents required for products to 
receive label certification.
    USDA is considering allowing labeling for three categories of 
products: (a) Products within one or more designated biobased items 
within the BioPreferred Program; (b) products within non-designated 
items that are not mature market products; and (c) products not 
eligible for designation because of market maturity. For the latter two 
categories, where no minimum content has previously been designated, 
USDA is considering requiring a 50 percent minimum biobased content for 
use of the label.
    USDA is also considering a process to allow a manufacturer, vendor, 
or trade association to seek an ``alternative minimum biobased 
content'' for products within categories (b) and (c) above, if they 
believe that the 50 percent minimum biobased content is not appropriate 
for their product(s). As part of seeking the alternative content 
levels, certain analysis and information, such as identifying similar 
biobased products and their manufacturers, would likely be required. 
While the specific analysis required will be determined on a case-by-
case basis, USDA anticipates that each analysis will be similar to the 
process USDA uses to set minimum biobased contents under the preferred 
procurement program.
    The public meeting discussion in part will address (a) the 50 
percent applicable minimum biobased contents that products within these 

[[Page 38969]]

categories must meet in order to be eligible for use of the label and 
(b) the procedure under which an applicant can request alternative 
applicable minimum biobased content (that is, an applicable minimum 
biobased content other than 50 percent).
    3. Testing procedures.
    USDA is seeking comment on where required testing procedures for 
determining and validating biobased content and the life-cycle costs 
and environmental and human health effects of the labeled products [as 
determined by the Building Environmental and Economic Sustainability 
(BEES) or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) analyses] 
are performed. USDA is considering permitting these tests to be 
performed by either a qualified third-party testing entity or by the 
manufacturer or vendor whose testing facilities are ASTM or 
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliant. 
Additionally, USDA is considering requiring that if the manufacturer or 
vendor chose to perform the tests that they be practitioners certified 
by a professional body, such as the American Center for Lifecycle 
    4. Label content.
    USDA is seeking comment on what information should be included on 
the label, such as a statement identifying the biobased content of the 
product, whether the label applies to the product, its packaging, or 
both, and use of the word ``BioPreferred'' in the label.
    a. Biobased Content. USDA is considering requiring that the 
biobased content of the product be included on the label. USDA believes 
that including the biobased content of the product on the label will 
provide all consumers and purchasers of biobased products additional 
information that will further the purchase of such products.
    b. Biobased Product Statement. It may also be important to identify 
for the consumer that the label applies to either the product or the 
packaging or both. Therefore, USDA is considering that the label 
include the appropriate biobased product statement(s) to make this 
clear. USDA is seeking comment on whether the biobased product 
statement or similar statements are needed. USDA is considering that 
the biobased product statement be integrated into the actual label that 
would be applied to the product or its packaging. USDA is also seeking 
comment and suggestion on how to clearly demonstrate the applicability 
of the label on the product, packaging, or in some other fashion.
    c. Other possible label content. USDA in also considering the 
possible advantages and disadvantages of requiring additional 
information on the label. For example, information on product 
performance and/or on the life-cycle costs and environmental and human 
health effects of the labeled products (as determined by the BEES or 
ASTM analyses). The primary advantage of providing additional 
information on the label is to further educate purchasers about the 
environmental and health attributes of the biobased products they 
choose to purchase. However, because the results of the BEES and ASTM 
analyses are not available for non-labeled products and because they 
are only comparable between products within the same designated item or 
grouping of products, the labels could be misleading to purchasers. 
Also, the amount of space that would be needed for a legible 
presentation of this information could be a serious drawback for many 
small products (for example, household cleaners, hair care products, 
lip care products).
    The public meeting in part will address the value of providing 
additional information on the label, what types of information should 
be included, and how it should be presented. Consideration should also 
be given to the fact that some of this additional information may be 
made available on the BioPreferred Program Web site.
    d. Identifying products that are also eligible for preferred 
procurement under the BioPreferred Program. USDA is proposing to 
include the word ``BioPreferred'' on the label to identify those 
labeled products that are also eligible for preferred procurement under 
the BioPreferred Program. USDA is seeking comments on other options 
that can be used to identify products that are also eligible for 
preferred procurement under the BioPreferred Program. For example, one 
alternative USDA considered was requiring the use of a separate label 
that would simply say ``BioPreferred.'' Another alternative USDA 
considered was to require manufacturers to indicate in the product's 
literature that the product is eligible for preferred procurement under 
the BioPreferred Program rather than requiring such information on the 
label itself.

    Dated: July 1, 2008.
Boyd K. Rutherford,
Assistant Secretary for Administration.
 [FR Doc. E8-15411 Filed 7-7-08; 8:45 am]