USDA BioPreferred® Program

Managed by USDA, BioPreferred was initiated and reauthorized in the two most recent “Farm Bills,” the Food Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

The goal of BioPreferred is to increase the purchase and use of biobased products through two initiatives: procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors and voluntary certification and labeling for consumer marketing.

Biobased Products Defined
Biobased products are commercial or industrial products (other than food or feed) that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials (including plant, animal and marine materials) or forestry materials.

The 2008 Farm Bill extended the definition of biobased products to include biobased intermediate ingredients or feedstocks. Biobased products do not include fossil fuels such as coal or petroleum, motor vehicle fuels, heating oil and electricity produced from biomass (biological material from living or recently living organisms, most commonly used as a renewal energy source).

Federal Procurement Preference
The 2002 Farm Bill requires the U.S. government and its contractors to buy and use products that are biobased. BioPreferred designates which types of products must be afforded this procurement preference. As a part of this process, a minimum biobased content is specified for each product category, and information on the technical, health and environmental characteristics of these products is made available on the BioPreferred website (

Products that had a significant market share in 1972 do not qualify for federal procurement preference. For example, cotton T-shirts are biobased but are considered a mature market product since a signi cant portion of the T-shirt market, as of 1972, consisted of cottonbased products.

Voluntary Certification and Labeling
The consumer-focused portion of BioPreferred is designed to empower the consumer to take into account the verified amount of biobased content in a product and to assure them of the accuracy of biobased content of products that include the official “USDA Certified Biobased Product” label. The USDA certified biobased label is intended to be:
• Easy to understand
• Transparent by way of percent biobased content
• Cost-effective to the end user
• Proprietary and controlled

The USDA Certified Biobased Product Eligibility
Products must be biobased to be eligible for certification. Products that fit into one of the designated federal procurement preference categories must meet or exceed the required biobased content minimum for that category. All other products must be at least 25 percent biobased unless the label applicant applies for and receives an alternative minimum biobased content. Mature market products, which are excluded from the federal procurement preference program, will be considered for label certification on a case-by-case basis.