The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has restarted the Biomass Crop Assistance Program that provides financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy.
According to USDA, financial assistance is available through BCAP for costs associated with harvesting and transporting agriculture or forest residues to facilities that convert biomass crops into energy. Eligible crops may include corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste. The energy facility must first be approved by USDA to accept the biomass crop.
Beginning today (June 1, 2015) facilities can apply for, or renew, their BCAP qualification status. $11.5 million of federal funds will be allocated to support the delivery of biomass materials through December 2015. Last year, more than 200,000 tons of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands were removed and used to produce renewable energy, while reducing the risk of forest fire. Nineteen energy facilities in 10 states participated in the program.
Financial assistance is also available to grow biomass crops that will be converted into energy in selected BCAP project areas. New BCAP project area proposals will be solicited beginning this summer and accepted through fall 2015, with new project area announcements and enrollments taking place in early spring 2016. This fiscal year USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will allocate up to $8 million for producer enrollment to expand and enhance existing BCAP project areas. The extended proposal submission period allows project sponsors time to complete any needed environmental assessments and allows producers enough lead time to make informed decisions on whether or not to pursue the BCAP project area enrollment opportunity. This fiscal year USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will allocate up to $8 million for producer enrollment to expand and enhance existing BCAP project areas.