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BCAP energy crop funding

June 14, 2012, Washington, DC - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $9.6 million for the creation of two new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in New York and North Carolina, and the expansion of an already established BCAP project area in Arkansas.


June 14, 2012
By USDA

June 14, 2012, Washington, DC – Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $9.6 million for the creation of
two new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in New York
and North Carolina, and the expansion of an already established BCAP
project area in Arkansas. The announcement provides the opportunity to
expand the nation’s non-food, energy crops used in the manufacturing of
liquid biofuels and to help meet state mandated Renewal Portfolio
Standards (RPS).

“Increasing
the production of renewable, home-grown fuels is vital to reducing our
country's reliance on foreign oil, while creating good-paying jobs and
diversifying the agriculture economy,” said Vilsack. “These projects are
the foundation for an even stronger energy future in rural America.
Because most energy crops are perennial and take time to mature before
harvest, BCAP is designed so that sufficient quantities of feedstock
will be available to meet future demand. Most importantly: these crops
can grow where other crops cannot, providing farmers with new
opportunities to diversify into more markets.”
USDA’s
Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers BCAP. BCAP, created in the 2008
Farm Bill, helps farmers and forest land owners with start-up costs of
planting new energy crops that can take several years to reach maturity
until harvest, a timeline designed to parallel the construction schedule
of commercial-scale energy facilities that will use these crops. BCAP
is the only federal program that ensures sufficient biomass is available
to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy
security, reduce pollution and spur rural economic development and job
creation.
 
One
of the two new BCAP project areas is sponsored by Chemtex International
Inc., targeted for the heart of North Carolina, where it will grow more
than 4,000 acres of Freedom® Giant Miscanthus and switch grass. The
crop production will support Chemtex’s Project Alpha, a cellulosic
biorefinery with an expected annual production of 20 million gallons of
bioethanol and downstream sustainable chemicals, as well as onsite
biogas for power generation. Project Alpha expects to create 65 direct
jobs and 250 indirect jobs. The crop propagations, planting and
mitigation and monitoring plan for Freedom® Giant Miscanthus, a crop
based on strains developed by Mississippi State University, will be
coordinated by REPREVE Renewables LLC. REPREVE Renewables, based in
Georgia, also is the sponsor of the project’s accompanying environmental
assessment. Enrolled producers will receive establishment assistance
and five years of annual production support under BCAP.
 
The
second new BCAP project area ramps up efforts in upstate New York to
meet the state’s goal of sourcing 24 percent of electric and power
generation from renewables by 2013. The BCAP project area, sponsored by
ReEnergy Holdings LLC, seeks to enroll up to 3,500 acres in fast growing
shrub willow to generate more than 100 megawatts of electricity.
ReEnergy Holdings LLC, has three committed facilities dedicated to
purchasing from growers in the project area. This project complements
USDA’s Wood-to-Energy Initiative; it seeks to build a forest restoration
economy by integrating energy feedstock within the larger forest
products sector to sustain rural jobs and prosperity. The project area
dedication is expected, according to industry estimates, to create 144
jobs — direct and indirect — and support these shrub willow
establishments over the course of 11 years. Outreach for this Area will
include access to the region’s “Come Farm With Us” campaign, which
targets new & beginning farmers and the St. Regis Mohawk reservation
located 15 miles from one of the committed facilities.
Additionally,
BCAP Project Area 2 in northeast Arkansas will expand its area within
three counties, bringing enrollment up to nearly 8,000 acres of Giant
Miscanthus. This Arkansas BCAP project area is sponsored by MFA Oil
Biomass LLC, in Columbia, Mo. MFA Oil Biomass and partner Aloterra
Energy LLC, operating in Ohio, will continue to coordinate the crop
propagations, planting and mitigation and monitoring plan. These crops
support the expected production of fuel pellets for export and in-farm
heating and biobased packaging. MFA Oil Biomass and Aloterra Energy are
predominantly locally owned and have sponsored three additional BCAP
projects in Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania, investing more than $6
million in the operation. Continuing enrollments in this project area
will contribute to an industry-estimate of 750 new jobs, indirect and
direct, to be created.
On
Nov. 18, 2011, Congress enacted the Consolidated and Further Continuing
Appropriations Act, 2012, limiting the total amount of funding
available for BCAP to $17 million, a reduction of 96 percent from
funding levels available last spring.
“The
Renewable Fuels Standard calls for 20 billion gallons more in just 10
years, but without using corn starch,” said FSA Administrator Bruce
Nelson. “Many states have also implemented Renewable Electricity
Standards to encourage more biomass for heat and power. That’s why BCAP
is so important. It provides the risk management tools necessary for
farmers and forest landowners to begin growing non-food, dedicated
energy crops.”
Producers
in these 28 counties throughout Arkansas, North Carolina and New York
who voluntarily sign up and enter into BCAP contracts are eligible for
reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the establishment costs of the
perennial energy crop, and up to five years of annual maintenance
payments for herbaceous crops and up to 11 years for woody crops.
USDA
selected nine project areas in FY 2011, which resulted in the approval
of more than 860 producer contracts to grow camelina, hybrid poplar,
warm season grasses and giant miscanthus on almost 50,000 enrolled acres
in project areas covering 168 counties in 10 states: Arkansas,
California, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania and Washington. These crops, such as switchgrass, hybrid
poplar and giant miscanthus, are the first-ever national investments in
expanding U.S. biomass resources to meet domestic energy security. The
total investment in those projects is estimated to be $55 million.
The
sign-up period for the New York, North Carolina and Arkansas project
areas will begin June 18, 2012. The deadline to sign up for the project
areas is Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. FSA, administering the program on
behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation with conservation planning
assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other
partners, will enter into contracts with landowners and operators in
these project areas. Producers interested in participating in the
project areas should visit their local FSA county office. Information
about BCAP may be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.

To
create jobs in rural communities, drive economic growth, and help
reduce our dependence on foreign oil, USDA is aggressively pursuing
investments in renewable energy, investing in or making payments to over
5,700 renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects. More
than 130 biodiesel and ethanol projects funded by USDA are currently
producing almost 3.7 billion gallons of biodiesel and ethanol annually,
enough fuel – in equivalence to gasoline – to keep five million vehicles
on the road every year. In addition, USDA provided financial assistance
for blender fuel pumps so drivers can pump fuels with higher ethanol
mix into their gas tanks. This year, these programs provided financial
assistance to help support nearly 250 blender fuel pumps.


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