Bioeconomy gets a boost from USDA incentives

By Jodi Delapaz

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2016 - Some $1.5 million will be available in fiscal year 2017 for farmers and foresters who harvest and deliver biomass for renewable energy.

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The funds are provided through USDA's Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 farm bill. The department says the effort will help mitigate climate change, improve forest health, promote a clean-energy economy and bolster markets for rural-made products. Since 2009, USDA says its efforts have included more than 2,700 biobased products through BCAP.

“USDA investments in expanding biofuel feedstocks lay the foundation for more bioproducts made in rural America, supporting rural economic development, reducing carbon pollution and helping decrease our dependence on foreign energy,” says USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini.

In fiscal year 2017, there is $3 million total available for BCAP, half of which is for harvesting and delivering forest or agricultural residues to a USDA-approved energy facility, the department says.

Facilities seeking to be qualified by USDA to accept BCAP-funded biomass can enroll through Dec. 5.

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Also, from Jan. 9 through March 15, 2017, USDA will accept applications from foresters and farmers seeking incentives to remove biomass residues from fields or national forests for delivery to energy generation facilities. Eligible crops include corn residue, orchard waste or diseased or insect-infested wood materials. The retrieval payments are provided at a match of $1 for $1, up to $20 per dry ton, USDA days.

BCAP also provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of biomass for energy or biobased products. USDA says more information on that funding will be announced at a later date. 

For more information about BCAP, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.

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