USDA announced its final rule designating the first six items that must receive special consideration when federal agencies make purchases under the Federal Biobased Products Preferred Procurement Program. According to USDA Secretary Mike Johanns, "The designation of these six biobased items presents new economic opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers. This is an historic step toward increasing the use of biobased products by the federal government."

The final rule designates six items, which are generic groupings of biobased products. These are: mobile equipment hydraulic fluids, biobased roof coatings, water tank coatings, diesel fuel additives, penetrating lubricants, and lastly bedding, bed linens and towels.

Two of the items, water tank coatings and bedding, bed linens, and towels, have fewer than two suppliers of the biobased products that fall within these items. Consequently, federal agencies won't have to give these items preference in procurement until there are two or more suppliers. USDA will issue a Federal Register notice when at least two suppliers are making these items available. -- P. Scott Shearer, Washington, D.C., correspondent