White House Memo Directs Fed Agencies to Buy More ‘Green’

Feedstuffs
02/22/2012

The USDA announced three initiatives Feb. 21 aimed at increasing jobs and economic development in rural America – including a directive from President Obama for federal agencies to dramatically increase purchases of biobased products.

The Biobased Products Coalition, a coalition of agribusinesses and producer groups, was quick to praise the new support for federal procurement of biobased products, a concept which was first spelled out in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills.

USDA’s statement said the President’s memorandum would “dramatically increase the purchase of biobased products over the next two years.” In addition, the action means new jobs and manufacturing in rural America in locations near where the plant-based raw materials are grown. The USDA announcement also noted the memorandum will “result in a 50% increase in the number of new products that are designated as biobased.”

Biobased products include items like paints, soaps and detergents and are developed from farm grown plants, rather than chemicals or petroleum bases.

A statement from the Biobased Products Coalition reported the key provisions of the new Memorandum are:

  • Requiring federal agencies to include goals and milestones for biobased purchasing in their Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans.
  • Including biobased purchasing in the scorecard that the Office of Management and Budget uses to rate agencies' Sustainability/Energy performance.
  • Directing a 50 percent increase in the number of new product categories that are designated by USDA as biobased for preferred federal purchasing.
  • Requiring new public reporting of federal agencies' biobased product purchasing.
  • Requiring federal agencies to sample and verify that biobased products are being included in purchasing contracts, identified in purchasing catalogs, and integrated in product specifications and contracting procedures.
  • Directing the implementation of new biobased purchasing training, education, and outreach efforts to federal buyers.
  • Providing assistance to small businesses to improve the selling of biobased products and services to the Federal Government.

In addition, to boosting federal procurement of biobased products, USDA also announced a “Rural Jobs Accelator,” described as a national competition that will provide about $15 million for projects that promote innovation-fueled regional job creation.

A memorandum of understanding between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor to support more rural health information technology jobs was announced. It aims to connect community colleges and technical colleges in rural regions with resources they need for health IT professionals who will work in rural hospitals and clinics.

The President’s memorandum on bio-based products is online. Additional information is online at:
www.usda.gov.

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