USDA Reminds Public of Deadline for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Proposals - May 27, 2011

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 05/06/2011 - 03:13.

USDA Reminds Public of Deadline for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Proposals
 
WASHINGTON, May 3, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today reminded farmers, ranchers and forest landowners that the deadline for submitting project area proposals for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is May 27, 2011.
 
“We know that viable solutions to combat high gas prices can be found in rural America,” said Vilsack. “America’s farmers, ranchers, rural businesses and communities are already important partners in helping to build a more secure, sustainable energy supply. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program provides incentives to producers of the materials needed to fuel the new clean energy economy and provide rural jobs.”
 
BCAP, which was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides incentives to eligible farmers, ranchers and forest landowners for the establishment and production of biomass crops for heat, power, bio-based products and biofuels. BCAP project areas are specific geographical areas where producers may enroll land to grow eligible biomass crops. Enrolled program participants may be eligible to receive financial and technical assistance as well as annual payments to establish these crops.
 
Project areas are established based on proposals submitted to FSA by a group of producers or an entity that converts biomass to heat, power, a bio-based product or advanced biofuel. Those interested in submitting a proposal are encouraged to contact their FSA state office for details.
 
For more information on BCAP, visit the USDA Farm Service Agency’s website at www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.
 
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

USDA looks to convert up to 50,000 acres to biofuel crops
 
By Rita Jane Gabbett on 5/6/2011
 
USDA announced the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote production of dedicated feedstocks for bioenergy.

Under the program, created in the 2008 Farm Bill, this first project area includes 39 contiguous counties in Missouri and Kansas and provides for enrollment of up to 50,000 acres for establishing a dedicated energy crop of native grasses and herbaceous plants (forbs) for energy purposes.

Producers in the area would plant mixes of perennial native plants, such as switchgrass, to manufacture biomass pellet fuels and other biomass products to use for power and heat generation.

“Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require investments in projects like we are announcing today,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a news release. “By encouraging production of feedstocks that can be converted into next-generation biofuels we are boosting the rural economy, creating jobs, contributing to America’s energy security and protecting our planet.”

The program provides an opportunity for teams of crop producers and bioenergy facilities to submit proposals to USDA to be selected as a BCAP project area.  If selected, crop producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing a bioenergy perennial crop, and can receive up to five years of annual payments for grassy crops (annual or perennial), and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops (annual or perennial).

Facts about BCAP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.

 
 
Biomass Crop Assistance Program for FSA
 
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks. BCAP provides two categories of assistance:
  • Matching payments may be available for the delivery of eligible material to qualified biomass conversion facilities by eligible material owners. Qualified biomass conversion facilities produce heat, power, biobased products, or advanced biofuels from biomass feedstocks.
  • Establishment and annual payments may be available to certain producers who enter into contracts with the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to produce eligible biomass crops on contract acres within BCAP project areas.
 
The following materials provide background information and formal rules and regulations for BCAP: 
Unless noted all items will be in PDF file format.
 
Qualified Biomass Conversion Facilities and Materials List 
  • Qualified Biomass Conversion Facility (BCF) Listing (PDF, April 22, 2011, 49 KB)
  • BCAP Materials List (PDF, Dec 21, 2010 71 KB)
Forms, Worksheets, and Instructions 
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program Application and Agreement for Approval as a Qualified Biomass Crop Conversion Facility (DOC, December 14, 2010 121 KB) 
  • Biomass Conversion Facility Overview, Form BCAP-1 (PDF, Jan 3, 2011, 563 KB) 
  • Biomass Conversion Facility Overview, Instructions BCAP-1 (PDF, Feb 22, 2011, 68 KB) 
  • BCAP project area proposal submission, Form BCAP-20 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 431 KB) 
  • BCAP project area proposal submission, Instructions BCAP-20 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 42 KB) 
  • BCAP project area proposal estimates, Form BCAP-21 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 223 KB) 
  • BCAP project area proposal estimates, Instructions BCAP-21 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 34 KB) 
  • BCAP project area environmental screening worksheet, Form BCAP-22 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 305 KB) 
  • BCAP project area environmental screening worksheet, Instructions BCAP-22 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 39 KB) 
  • Certification regarding debarment, suspension, and other responsibility matters - primary covered transactions, form AD-1047 (DOC, Dec 15, 2010, 41 KB)
     
The following materials provide background information and formal rules and regulations for BCAP: 
  • Summary Report of BCAP CHST payments (PDF, 16 KB, October 20, 2010) 
  • Report of BCAP CHST payments by biomass type (PDF, October 20, 2010, 16 KB) 
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program - Final Rule (PDF, Oct 27, 2010, 273.23 KB) 
  • Sec 1619 (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 17 KB) 
  • Sample Purchase List (PDF, Dec 15, 2010, 10 KB)

Missouri becomes focus of drive for energy crops

By STEVE EVERLY
The Kansas City Star
May 4, 2011

 

A farmers’ cooperative near Warrensburg, Mo., could help decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s plans to produce more cellulosic-based biofuels to curb oil imports.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to announce today that the Show Me Energy Cooperative will get the first grant in a federal program to determine whether U.S. farmers are interested in growing large quantities of switchgrass or other such energy crops.

The Obama administration wants U.S. farmers to harvest enough cellulosic crops to produce 16 billion gallons of ethanol a year. That would displace about 7 percent of gasoline supplies and help hold down fuel prices.

In an interview with The Star, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the country needs to move quickly to meet that goal. The Missouri cooperative was picked in part, he said, because it already encourages farmers to provide alternative crops.

“This is vital,” he said. “It’s essential to show that this is going to work.”

Show-Me Energy will get $15 million. The money will help farmers in 38 counties in Missouri and Kansas cover some costs of planting seed that will grow into perennial crops to be used as feedstock for ethanol. Switchgrass needs more than a year to get established.

Initially, 20,000 acres will be planted. Eventually as many as 50,000 acres will be used, to show that switchgrass can be harvested on a commercial scale, said Steve Flick, board president of Show Me Energy.

Johnson, Cass, Henry, Pettis and Lafayette counties in Missouri and Miami and Linn counties in Kansas are expected to have the most acres devoted to energy crops. Acreage in Clay, Platte, Wyandotte and Johnson counties in the Kansas City area will be smaller.

To participate, farmers will not have to be members of the cooperative.

Most ethanol used today is made with corn, a practice often criticized for possibly causing higher food prices.

Flick said he’s optimistic that the farmers growing switchgrass will be successful in part because it can be grown on land not suitable for food crops. Also, younger farmers are especially excited about raising energy crops.

There are challenges, including generations-old farm practices that devote grass just for grazing animals or to making hay. Interest in alternative crops could also be dimmed by high prices for other commodities, including corn.

“We feel the pressure,” Flick said. “But this is a way to capture our energy future.”

Pilot cellulosic ethanol plants are already operating, and in the next couple of years larger ones are expected. But increasingly the biggest concern is providing the massive amounts of feedstock needed.

A 50-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant would need 2,000 tons of switchgrass a day, which would take up to 200 acres to grow.

“Unless you have feedstock, you have nothing,” said Flick.

In 2007, Show Me Energy began making pellets out of corn stalks, sawdust and switchgrass that were sold as fuel for home heating or to utilities to produce electricity. The cooperative’s vision was to diversify the agricultural economy and improve farmer incomes.

Vilsack said increasing amounts of energy crops and the economic benefit of having bio-refineries dotting the landscape provide “an opportunity to reshape the rural economy.”

A shadow on that outlook is just how much federal help will be available. Fiscal 2011 funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which is providing the grant to the Show Me cooperative, was slashed from more than $400 million to $112 million. There are doubts that the program will even exist next year.

ICM Inc., which is building a pilot cellulosic ethanol plant in St. Joseph, had counted on the program to get more farmers to grow cellulosic crops.

Greg Krissek, director of government affairs for ICM, said the demise of the federal program would make things much tougher.

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Missouri FSA Announces Program - Bioenergy Feedstock Production

Missouri FSA Announces Program for Bioenergy Feedstock Production

05/06/2011 04:21 PM EDT

Missouri FSA Announces Program for Bioenergy Feedstock Production

(COLUMBIA, Mo.) – Edward Hamill, executive director of Missouri Farm Service Agency, announced the nation’s first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area is located in 39 contiguous counties in western Missouri and eastern Kansas. The project area provides financial incentives to interested farmers, ranchers and forest landowners for the voluntary establishment and production of biomass crops for bioenergy. The sign up period for this project area will begin on Monday, May 9, 2011.

“Eligible producers located in this project area can receive incentives to establish and cultivate biomass crops, such as switchgrass, for heat, power and bio-based products and biofuels,” Hamill said. “The BCAP program is another step toward meeting the President’s goal of 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels by 2022 in the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The Missouri counties located in BCAP Project Area 1 are Barton, Bates, Benton, Boone, Buchanan, Caldwell, Callaway, Cass, Carroll, Chariton, Clay, Clinton, Cooper, Daviess, Harrison, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Morgan, Pettis, Platte, Ray, St. Clair, Saline and Vernon.

Eligible Kansas counties include Atchison, Douglas, Franklin, Johnson, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte.

Hamill says BCAP Project Area 1 allows the initial enrollment of up to 20,000 acres, subject to available funding, for the establishment of a dedicated energy crop of native grasses and herbaceous plants (forbs) for energy purposes. Producers in the area will plant mixes of perennial native plants, such as switchgrass, for the manufacture of biomass pellet fuels and other biomass products to be used for power and heat generation. The proposed crops also will provide long term resource conserving vegetative cover. The project is a joint effort between the agriculture producers of Show Me Energy Cooperative of Centerview, Mo., and USDA to spur the expansion of domestically produced biomass feedstocks in rural America for renewable energy.

Approved producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing the bioenergy perennial crop and receive up to five years of annual payments for grassy crops (annual or perennial), and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops (annual or perennial). Bioenergy facilities are those facilities that produce heat, power, biobased products, or advanced biofuels from biomass feedstocks.

Producers interested in participating in the project area should visit the local County FSA office for additional information and application. Information about BCAP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/BCAP.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll-free (800) 795-3272 or (800) 877-8339 (TDD).

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