USDA Resumes Incentives to Grow and Harvest Biomass for Energy and Biobased Products
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini announced that incentives resume this month for farmers and foresters who grow and harvest biomass for renewable energy and biobased products. The funds come through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“This program expands the types of feedstock that can be used to make renewable fuels and biobased products, laying the foundation for growing more products made in rural America,” said Dolcini. “The Biomass Crop Assistance Program currently supports more than 890 growers and landowners farming nearly 49,000 acres to establish and produce dedicated, nonfood energy crops for delivery to energy conversion facilities, and it is a key piece of USDA’s strategy to grow the rural economy and create new markets for our farmers and ranchers.”
Facilities seeking to be qualified by USDA to accept biomass can begin enrollment between today, May 23, and June 6, 2016. BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a USDA-approved facility that creates energy or biobased products.
In fiscal year 2016, there is $3 million available for BCAP. A portion of the funds will be provided to two existing BCAP projects in New York and Ohio/Pennsylvania to expand acres planted to shrub willow and giant miscanthus. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payments for these two projects between June 15 and Sept. 13, 2016.
Also, between June 15 to Aug. 4, 2016, 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. The retrieval payments are provided at match of $1 for $1, up to $20 per dry ton. Eligible crops include corn residue, diseased or insect-infested wood materials, or orchard waste.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has recognized the biobased economy as one of the pillars that strengthen rural communities, and as a result USDA helped jumpstart efforts to provide a reliable supply of advanced plant materials for biofuels. Over the course of this Administration, USDA has invested $332 million to accelerate research on renewable energy ranging from genomic research on bioenergy feedstock crops, to development of biofuel conversion processes and costs/benefit estimates of renewable energy production. Through BCAP, USDA is incentivizing more than 890 growers and landowners farming nearly 49,000 acres to establish and produce dedicated, nonfood energy crops for delivery to energy conversion facilities, and the department has expanded insurance coverage and other safety net options to support farmers producing biomass for renewable energy.
To ensure those feedstocks are put to use, USDA has invested in the work needed to create advanced biofuels refineries. Under this Administration, USDA has supported efforts to build six new biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels in Louisiana, Georgia, Oregon, Nevada, North Carolina, and Iowa, in addition to three existing facilities in New Mexico, Michigan and Florida previously supported. USDA has also worked to strengthen markets for biobased products. Approximately 2,500 products now carry USDA’s BioPreferred label, which helps consumers make informed decisions about their purchases, giving them assurances that their product was made using renewable materials, such as plants or forestry materials.
Investments in renewable energy and the biobased economy are a leading part of USDA’s commitment to mitigating climate change and promoting a clean-energy economy. This month, the Department is examining what a changing climate means to agriculture and how USDA is working to reduce greenhouse gases. For more information, visit Chapter 5 of https://medium.com/usda-results.
Since 2009, USDA has worked to strengthen and support American agriculture, an industry that supports one in 11 American jobs, provides American consumers with more than 80 percent of the food we consume, ensures that Americans spend less of their paychecks at the grocery store than most people in other countries, and supports markets for homegrown renewable energy and materials. USDA has also provided $5.6 billion of disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; expanded risk management tools with products like the Whole Farm Revenue Protection; and helped farm businesses grow with $36 billion in farm credit. The Department has engaged its resources to support a strong next generation of farmers and ranchers by improving access to land and capital; building new markets and market opportunities; extending new conservation opportunities. USDA has developed new markets for rural-made products, including more than 2,500 biobased products through USDA’s BioPreferred program; and invested $64 billion in infrastructure and community facilities to help improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.