Bio-Based and Bio-Preferred Products

Bio-based products are commercial or industrial goods (other than food or feed) determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary to be composed in whole or in significant part of biological products, forestry materials, or renewable domestic agricultural materials, including plant, animal, or marine materials.

Requirements and Policy

Procurement of bio-based products is required by Section 9002 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act (FSRIA) of 2002, Public Law 107-171. It authorizes USDA to designate bio-based products for federal procurement. The overall framework for the USDA program can be found in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 7 CFR 2902. Section 9002 of the 2008 Farm Bill requires federal agencies to purchase bio-based products designated as Bio-Preferred, except as provided in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.404(b).

Federal agencies are required to give preference to the item with the highest percentage of bio-based content where purchases exceed $10,000 per fiscal year, as prescribed by 7 CFR 2902.3.

The following sections of Part 23 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) pertain to bio-based items:

  • FAR 23.403 requires competitive cost-effective purchases of products that meet reasonable performance requirements and contain bio-based content;
  • FAR 23.404 requires agencies to have an Affirmative Procurement Program (APP) that provides guidelines for purchasing items with bio-based content;
  • FAR 23.406 requires the insertion of contract clauses regarding the use of USDA-designated items; and
  • FAR 23.703 requires agencies to implement cost-effective green contracting preference programs, employ sustainable acquisition strategies, and consider the use of bio-based products.

Executive Orders

Executive Order 13693 - Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade (March 2015)


Federal agencies are required to give preference to bio-based products in the USDA designated item categories. Specifications for procurement must require the use of bio-based products in these designated item categories. Additional designated items will be forthcoming. Visit USDA’s Bio-Preferred Program to find additional designations.

Exceptions may be made when:

  • There are less than two suppliers available for an item;
  • The item is unreasonably priced;
  • Delivery costs of the item are excessive; or
  • Regular delivery cannot be guaranteed.

Find and Purchase

Bio-based products are available for purchase at GSA Advantage!® and GSA Global Supply™. Bio-based items are identified with the bio-based symbol.The Bio-Preferred Program maintains a list of current designated items along with the minimum bio-based content required. The Bio-Preferred Catalog on the USDA’s website provides federal and contractor personnel with a searchable database of bio-based products. The catalog enables customers to compare information on Bio-Preferred products and the companies that provide them.

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