On Aug. 19, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini announced open enrollment for farmers and forest landowners seeking financial assistance for growing new sources of biomass for energy or biobased products within designated projects areas. The funds are available from the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
Biomass energy facilities or groups of producers may submit proposals for new BCAP project areas. Proposals will be accepted on www.grants.gov through Nov. 6, 2015. USDA will also allocate $7.7 million towards four existing BCAP project areas in New York, North Carolina, Ohio/Pennsylvania and Kansas/Oklahoma, targeting the establishment of an additional 10,500 acres of shrub willow, giant miscanthus, and switchgrass for energy. Project area sponsors include Chemtex International, Aloterra Energy LLC, Abengoa Biomass LLC and ReEnergy Holdings LLC. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payments for these four sites through Sept. 25, 2015.
In June, USDA began accepting applications from foresters and farmers seeking financial assistance for removing biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities; the deadline for those applications is Sept. 4, 2015. The retrieval payments are provided at a cost-share match of $1 for $1 up to $20 per dry ton with eligible crops including corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste. The energy facility must first be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop, and deliveries to the facilities can continue until Dec. 11, 2015.
The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes funding each year for the program to assist with the establishment and delivery of biomass for energy or biobased products. To date, BCAP has provided incentives for producers across more than 48,000 acres in 71 counties and 11 different project areas. For more information on the program or to enroll in updates, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap or contact your local FSA county office. To find your nearest FSA county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.
The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing, and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.