WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, March 6, U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and U.S. Reps. Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced Senate and House versions respectively of the Forest Products Fairness Act of 2013
If passed, this legislation would modify the definition of "biobased" materials to specifically include all forest products regardless of "newness" or "market maturity" in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred Program's voluntary labeling and government procurement initiatives.
"On behalf of the our members and the structural wood products industry, I'd like to thank Sens. Pryor and Blunt and Reps. Thompson and Schrader for their leadership to correct the arbitrary exclusion of wood products from the USDA's BioPreferred Program, and we deeply appreciate the support provided by the co-sponsors of these bills as well," said American Wood Council President and CEO Robert Glowinski. "It's misleading and does a terrible disservice to our industry to say that something made almost entirely from a biobased resource does not qualify, and we are hopeful that Congress will recognize – and correct – this shortcoming."
The USDA BioPreferred Program was originally enacted as part of the 2002 Farm Bill to help consumers identify and use biobased products. Products with as little as 25 percent biobased content are recognized under the program's current implementation guidelines, while many traditional wood products that have up to 100 percent biobased content are not.
These bills clarify that USDA should recognize forest products as biobased and will ensure a competitive marketplace for all products with biobased content, including wood.