USDA announces support for Biomass Crop Assistance Program

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, May 20, 2014 - Agricultural producers and energy facilities working to turn renewable biomass into clean energy will soon be able to apply for support through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill.

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The legislation provides up to $25 million annually for BCAP, USDA said in a news release. It requires between10 percent and 50 percent of the total funding to be used for harvest and transportation of biomass residues.

USDA notes that BCAP was modified in the Farm Bill to include higher incentives for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as well as narrower biomass qualifications for matching payments.

 “This initiative helps farmers and ranchers manage the financial risk of growing and harvesting energy biomass at commercial scale,” said Farm Service Agency Administrator Juan M. Garcia. “Investing in agricultural and forestry producers who cultivate energy biomass and supporting next-generation biofuels facilities make America more energy independent, help combat climate change and create jobs in rural America.”

There are three types of biomass assistance under BCAP. For growing new biomass, financial assistance with 50 percent of the cost of establishing a perennial crop is provided. To maintain the crop as it matures until harvest, BCAP provides an annual payment for up to five years for herbaceous crops, or up to 15 years for woody crops. To collect existing agriculture or forest residues that are not economically retrievable, BCAP provides matching payments for mitigating the cost of harvesting and transporting the materials to the end-use facility.

“For forest residues, this year's matching payments are targeted for energy generation while reducing fire, insect and disease threats on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands,” Garcia said. “Agriculture residues for energy are also eligible for matching payments.”

The USDA Farm Service Agency, which administers BCAP, will coordinate enrollments. Information on funding availability will be published in an upcoming Federal Register notice.

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