The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) began accepting applications on June 30, 2015, from foresters and farmers seeking financial assistance to harvest and deliver biomass to generate clean energy.
The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
For 2015, USDA has reserved up to $11.5 million to assist with the cost of removing woody or herbaceous residues from farm fields or national forests and woodlands for delivery to energy generation facilities. A majority of the funds are expected to support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forest and Bureau of Land Management public lands. Orchard wastes, and agriculture residues such as corn cobs and stalks, also qualify as energy-producing feedstock.
To be eligible for the retrieval incentives, the biomass must be delivered to FSA-approved biomass conversion facilities. For a list of approved facilities, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program also provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who produce new sources of energy biomass by growing eligible crops on contract acres within approved BCAP project areas. Funding for this portion of the program, known as Project Areas, will be announced later this summer. In addition, FSA is preparing an environmental review of BCAP and has proposed improvements to Project Area requirements, including crop eligibility, contract duration, and processes to offset the lack of biomass insurance. Interested stakeholders may attend the public education meetings at the locations listed below.
July 14, 2015 – Sacramento, California
July 15, 2015 – Honolulu, Hawaii
August 3, 2015 – Raleigh, North Carolina
August 4, 2015 – Orlando, Florida
August 5, 2015 – Sioux City, Iowa
For more details on the environmental review, proposed changes to BCAP, and meeting locations, visit www.bcappeis.com, www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap or contact your local FSA county office. To find your local FSA county office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.