WASHINGTON – Wood and other forest products could be considered a “biobased” product if an amendment to modify the Farm Act passes through Congress. H.R. 5873 – the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012 – is now before the House Committee of Agriculture for review.

A similar bill before the Senate, S. 2346 – Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012 – was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on April 25.

Introduced May 31, the Forest Products Fairness Act modifies the definition of “biobased” materials to include forest products in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biobased Markets Program. Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) the bipartisan bill has 34 co-sponsors.

The bill has the backing of a number of industry groups, including the American Forest & Paper Assn.

“Reps. Thompson and Schrader are to be commended for introducing much-needed legislation to clearly define paper, wood, and pulp products as qualifying biobased materials for the USDA’s Biobased Markets Program,” AFPA President and CEO Donna Harman said in a statement. “Paper and wood are among the most ‘biobased’ products made in the United States, and we believe they should be recognized for those inherent properties and not arbitrarily excluded from participation in a program identifying products as biobased. We urge passage of this bill to help protect our industry and the good-paying American manufacturing jobs it provides.”

The Biobased Markets Program, also known as the BioPreferred program, was included in the 2002 Farm Bill to increase the purchase and use of biobased products. If the amendments pass, it would allow wood products companies to take advantage of the two major the two major initiatives of the program, product labeling as a biobased material, and federal procurement preference.

“Under the current implementation guidelines, many paper and wood products that have up to 100 percent biobased content are not considered biobased, while products with as little as 25 percent biobased content are recognized,” Harman said.