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USDA restarts Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Will provide financial assistance to those producing biomass crops

By Diego Flammini,

Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in the United States with an interest in producing and harvesting crops for biomass and renewable energy purposes could be eligible for financial assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture.

The USDA has announced they are restarting the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). The BCAP specifically provides financial assistance associated with costs of harvesting and transporting agriculture and forest residues to facilities that can convert biomass crops into energy.

The Renewable Fuels Standard estimates 21 billion gallons of non-corn-starch biofuels may be needed in the American fuel supply by 2022.

Eligible crops include corn residue, diseased or infected wood materials, and orchard waste.

The Farm Service Agency will make about $8 million available for producer enrollment and expansion of current BCAP areas.

Project area announcements and enrollments are scheduled to take place in early spring 2016 as area proposals are currently underway.

Participants in a BCAP project could enter into a five year agreement with the USDA to establish annual or perennial crops, or a 15-year agreement for woody biomass. Farmers could be eligible to receive 50% of the costs associated with establishing a perennial crop (limited to $500 per acre).

There are some restrictions when it comes to land that’s eligible for BCAP projects. Federal or state-owned land and land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve or Agricultural Conservation Easement programs are not eligible.

There are also restrictions when it comes to the kinds of crops that are eligible for BCAP projects. The following are ineligible:

  • Any crop eligible for payments under Title I of the 2014 Farm Bill including corn, wheat, barley, oats, upland cotton, rice and peanuts
  • Animal waste or by products
  • Food or yard waste
  • Algae

Tell us your thoughts about the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Is it something you would consider enrolling in? What benefits could it have?

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