The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced that a pre-recorded informational webinar regarding the proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) will be made available beginning on June 1, 2018.  83 Fed. Reg. 23827.  The Federal Register notice states that the pre-recorded webinar “will provide an overview of the background, provisions, and potential impacts of the proposed standard,” and the proposed standard “would require food manufacturers and other entities that label foods for retail sale to disclose information about bioengineered food and bioengineered food ingredients.”  The webinar will be available on USDA’s Rules & Regulations webpage.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 11, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public review and comment. This document evaluates the possible environmental impacts from a potential approval of a permit to release a genetically engineered (GE) Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) through Florida.  This GE plant virus would be used as a biological control agent to help manage Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening disease, which can devastate the citrus industry. This notice is available in the Federal Register and is open for comments through June 25, 2018.

Tags: USDA, APHIS, EIS, Citrus

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 9, 2018, Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance announced that its POWERply® Endure™ BIO Adhesive had earned the Certified Biobased Product label from the USDA BioPreferred Program. Tremco’s adhesive is made of 71 percent biobased material with ultra-low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that meet California VOC limits. Four other Tremco Roofing products have the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label, including AlphaGuard™ BIO Base Coat, AlphaGuard BIO Top Coat, Rock-It® WB, and Low Rise Foam Insulation Adhesive Green. The USDA BioPreferred Program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill, and provides third-party verification of a product’s biobased content. This program was created to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 3, 2018, Jacor, LLC announced that five of its EcoBioClean® products earned the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product label:

  • EcoBioClean® 100 COSW with 95% biobased content;
  • EcoBioClean® Pipes/Tanks 103 CE with 95% biobased content;
  • EcoBioClean® Fresh Water 101 COFW with 95% biobased content;
  • EcoBioClean® Land 102 COL with 95% biobased content; and
  • EcoBioClean® Biological Waste 105 BW with 95% biobased content.

These products provide contamination cleanup solutions for crude oil spills and leaks, as well as lubricants, dispersants, cleaning solutions, tar, human waste, and more, in a variety of environments and temperatures. The USDA BioPreferred Program was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and expanded by the 2014 Farm Bill, and provides third-party verification of a product’s biobased content. This program was created to increase the development, purchase, and use of biobased products.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On May 4, 2018, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed a rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016.  83 Fed. Reg. 19860.  USDA states the standard will provide “a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food and avoid a patchwork system of state or private labels that could be confusing for consumers and would likely drive up food costs,” and is intended “to provide a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers about the [bioengineered (BE)] status of foods.”  Comments on the proposed rule must be received by July 3, 2018, and the announcement states that, due to the Congressionally mandated timeline for this rulemaking, the comment period will not be extended.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 28, 2018, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sonny Perdue issued a statement providing clarification on USDA’s oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques that include techniques called genome editing.  The announcement states that under its biotechnology regulations, USDA “does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests,” which “includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods” and “[t]he newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.”   Secretary Perdue stated that using this science, “farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources.”


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its report on the economic impact of the biobased economy.  The report, titled “Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy,” reviews data from 2011 and 2016 to analyze trends in the agricultural, bioenergy, renewable chemicals, and policy sectors.  According to the analysis, the renewable chemicals and biobased products sector contributed 4.22 million jobs and an economic value of $393 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014.  Between 2014 and 2016, the number of products certified under the UDSA Biopreferred® program increased from 1,800 to 2,900.  The analysis was commissioned by the USDA Office of the Chief Economist and prepared jointly by the Energy and Natural Resource Research Cluster at East Carolina University and the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) at North Carolina State University.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued in the Federal Register a notice announcing the submission of an information collection request (ICR) on the guidelines for designating biobased products for federal procurement to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Pursuant to Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002, as amended by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008, and the Agricultural Act of 2014, federal agencies are required to purchase biobased products under the preferred procurement program.  Product categories for preferred procurement are established by rulemaking based on the availability of biobased products, the economic and technological feasibility of using such products, and the costs of using such products.  Additionally, federal agencies are provided with information on the availability, price, performance, and environmental and public health benefits of such product categories, and, where appropriate, the recommended level of biobased material to be contained in the procured product.  Such information is gathered under the ICR from biobased product manufacturers and vendors by the Office of Procurement and Property Management (OPPM) and its contractors.  USDA is seeking comments on:

  • Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of USDA, including whether the information will have practical utility;
  • The accuracy of USDA’s estimate of burden, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
Tags: USDA, OMB, Comments

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2018, the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service issued in the Federal Register a notice of solicitation of applications for the  Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2018.  The solicitation is being issued prior to the passage of a final appropriations act to allow time for the submission and review of applications within the current FY.  Information on the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act will be published on the Rural Business-Cooperative Service website.  The solicitation applies to two types of REAP funding assistance.  The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems, such as renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), wind, solar, small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources.  The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants supports the establishment of a program designed to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency and the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.
 
To be considered for funding in FY 2018, submissions must be received as outlined below:
 

Application

 
Application window
opening dates
Application window closing dates
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for up to approximately 50 percent of the set aside funds) April 1, 2017






 
October 31, 2017






 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for the remaining set aside funds) November 1, 2017





 
April 30, 2018





 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants (Unrestricted grants, including combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is greater than $20,000,) April 1, 2017




 
April 30, 2018




 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Guaranteed Loans Continuous application cycle
 
Continuous application cycle
 
Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants February 1, 2017

 
January 31, 2018

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Given that applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, applications received after the specified deadlines will be considered with other applications received in the next application window.
Tags: USDA, REAP

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On February 27, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) published its 2017 Annual Report:  User Inspired Science Transforming Lives.  The report provides an overview and examples of the many NIFA-funded research, extension, and education outcomes conducted by a broad range of partners, including academic and science organizations; small business and industry; agencies from all levels of government; and non-governmental organizations.  According to the report, NIFA relies on stakeholder input as a key driver in determining NIFA’s research, education, and extension priorities to ensure that the science that begins in the lab reaches the people who need it.  NIFA’s Bioeconomy, bioenergy, bioproducts science emphasis area supports the expansion of regional production systems for biofuels and bio-based products to foster rural economic development, mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, reduce greenhouse gasses, improve wildlife and pollinator habitat, and improve water quality and food and energy security.  In 2017, NIFA engaged in 27 bioeconomy, bioenergy, bioproducts competitive projects, which accounted for two percent of NIFA’s total competitive project funding.

Tags: USDA, NIFA

 
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