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USDA Releases BCAP Implementation Information

July 22, 2009

USDA Farm Service Agency has just released implementation information for county offices on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program-2.  The release outlines further details of participant eligibility, qualifying biomass crops, documentation and application form requirements, and other program implementation details.  A few key implementation details:

            -All biomass transactions must document: biomass weight, moisture content for the purpose of scoring the actual dry tonnage, and the biomass conversion facility’s identification.

            -For biomass producers to become eligible for matching payments they must: submit all applications to the FSA, establish a Memorandum Of Understanding with all intended Biomass Conversion Facility collaborators, secure clear ownership of the biomass if grown on land not owned by the biomass producer, and establish and adhere to a conservation plan if the biomass is grown on private cropland.

Upon review, it appears a gap in eligibility exists.  One eligibility requirement states that all transactions must occur between distinct, disinterested parties.  Under this requirement, biomass producers may sell biomass to another entity and conversion facilities may purchase biomass, but an entity may not participate in BCAP if it plans to grow and also use the biomass in a conversion facility.  A clearly delineated distinction is a farm cooperative in which member farmers may sell biomass to the co-op at market prices.  This may put at a disadvantage individuals planning to grow biomass for on-farm or on-site energy production.  Yet, the goals of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program clearly include addressing market uncertainty for biomass growers and conversion facilities without a dedicated market or source. 

The entire BCAP Collection, Harvest, Storage, and Transportation Matching Payment Program implementation document is available at: http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_Notice/bcap_2.pdf

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