The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced June 1 that incentives will resume this summer for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners interested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy.
The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 farm bill.
BCAP provides financial assistance to establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility.
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. Facilities can now apply for, or renew, 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. Nineteen energy facilities in 10 states participated in the program.
Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners can also receive financial assistance to grow biomass crops for conversion 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.