WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced H.R. 5873 – the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2012 – which would modify the definition of “biobased” materials to specifically include forest products in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Biobased Markets Program.

“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,” said American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO Donna Harman. “Much like its Senate companion, S. 2346, H.R. 5873 has broad, bipartisan support. 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The Biobased Markets Program (also referred to as the BioPreferred® program) was originally enacted as part of the 2002 Farm Bill to increase the identification and use of biobased products. The program is comprised of two separate initiatives: Product Labeling, which allows companies to affix certification labels to products the agency identifies as biobased, and a Federal Procurement Preference, which gives preference to pre-selected biobased products for purchase by the federal government.

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.

H.R. 5873 clarifies that USDA should recognize forest products as biobased and will ensure a competitive marketplace for all products with biobased content, including “pulp, paper, paperboard, pellets, and wood products” and “any recycled products derived from forest materials.”

Source: American Forest & Paper Association

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