Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced a series of measures that could help kick-start our faltering renewable fuels industry. In a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Vilsack announced several measures, including the publication of a final rule to implement the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Under the BCAP final rule, USDA will resume making payments to eligible producers. Authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, BCAP is designed to ensure that a sufficiently large base of new, non-food, non-feed biomass crops is established in anticipation of future demand for renewable energy consumption.
BCAP uses a dual approach to support the production of renewable energy. First, BCAP provides assistance for the establishment and production of eligible renewable biomass crops within specified project areas. Producers who enter into BCAP contracts may receive payments of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing eligible perennial crops. Further, they can receive payments for up to five years for annual or non-woody perennial crops and up to 15 years for woody perennial crops. FSA is accepting project area proposals.
In addition, BCAP also assists agricultural and forest landowners and operators by providing matching payments for the transportation of certain eligible materials that are sold to qualified biomass conversion facilities. The Secretary also announced jointly with the Federal Aviation Administration a five year agreement to develop aviation fuel from forest and crop residues and other "green" feedstocks.