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USDA Announces Funding for Biomass Crop Assistance Program

June 11, 2009

via FarmEnergy.org

grassy_prairieOverview
 
Today, June 11, USDA issued a Notice of Funds for Availability (NOFA) for the Collection, Harvest, Storage and Transportation (CHST) portion of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).  You can read the official notice here. Funding for the remaining components of BCAP (annual and establishment payments) will be announced in the final rule at a later date.
 
This NOFA is being rolled out as USDA completes a set of 6 public hearings around the country on the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being conducted for BCAP.  BCAP advances sustainable energy crops — a global warming solution that provides new income opportunities for farmers.
 
Collection, Harvest Storage and Transportation Assistance
 
The CHST payments under BCAP provide biomass producers or owners with a $1 for $1 matching payment when they deliver biomass to a biomass conversion facility.  For each dollar a biomass producer receives from the facility, the USDA will pay an additional dollar, up to $45 per dry ton, for up to 2 years.  This payment is intended to help biomass producers with the costs of biomass collection, harvest, storage and transportation.
 
A biomass producer or owner can be the owner of the land where the biomass is produced or a person with the right to collect or harvest biomass off of the land, such as a renter or contractor.
 
A biomass conversion facility is any facility using biomass to produce heat, power, biobased products or next-generation biofuels like cellulosic ethanol or biomass pellets.
 
There is broad eligibility for the types of biomass eligible for payments.  The only specific exclusions are biomass from state and federal lands, commodity grains and fibers, animal wastes and by-products, food and yard waste and algae.  However, only 20% of funding made available for CHST payments (estimated to be $25 million for 2009 but may increase) can go to residues from Title I commodity crops.
 
perrenial_baleBiomass can be harvested from a wide variety of land types, including non-industrial and Federal forest land, crop land, and other privately owned lands such as rangeland and pastureland. Any forest land where biomass is being harvested for BCAP must be under a forest stewardship plan or a similar plan.  Cropland where biomass is being harvested for this program must comply with the same highly erodible land conservation requirements as Commodity Title programs.  Biomass harvest must follow all applicable state and federal environmental regulations.
 
Owners of participating biomass conversion facilities will enter into a memorandum of understanding with USDA that the facility can and will provide all relevant information on biomass delivery and use.  The local FSA office then considers submitted materials and qualifies facilities based on their applications.
 
FSA county offices will keep and distribute public listings of qualified biomass conversion facilities and the types of materials they are using in order to ensure more open market access for producers.  Then, biomass producers file an application with USDA to receive payments for providing biomass to a registered facility.  Once biomass is sold, producers must submit proof of sale materials, verified by the qualified biomass conversion facility, to FSA to receive the payment.
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