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Major Agricultural Research Center Leading the Way in "Going Green"

By Don Comis
October 28, 2003

A major federal agricultural research center that has been a leader in the use of biobased products, from heating fuel to cleaning supplies, is sharing its experiences today at a workshop aimed at encouraging other government agencies to use "green products."

The Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) is operated at Beltsville, Md., by the Agricultural Research Service, the primary scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. BARC representatives are speaking today at the Biobased Procurement Workshop at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC. The workshop is for federal procurement officers.

The biobased products used at BARC range from soy urethane-backed carpet to plant-based soap and other cleaning products, industrial lubricants, engine oil and soy-based diesel fuel used to heat some buildings and run vehicles, lawn mowers, generators, pumps and grounds maintenance equipment.

Title IX of the 2002 Farm Bill requires all federal procurement offices to give preference to USDA-designated biobased items as substitutes for less environmentally friendly ones. Biobased products are made, at least in part, from U.S. crops and animal products and replace petroleum or other less environmentally friendly ingredients.

Today's workshop includes exhibits from companies that make biobased products from corn, soybeans and other farm commodities. In the afternoon, the exhibitors will meet with procurement officers from each of eight administrative areas in ARS to discuss how the agency's four regional research centers--at Peoria, Ill., Albany, Calif., Wyndmoor, Pa., and New Orleans, La.--might also become "green showcases."