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USDA supports renewable biomass energy

Staff writer |
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced support for agriculture producers and energy facilities working to turn renewable biomass materials into clean energy.

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The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and will resume this summer.

The Farm Bill authorises $25 million annually for BCAP, requiring between 10 and 50% of the total funding to be used for harvest and transportation of biomass residues. Traditional food and feed crops are ineligible for assistance. The Bill also enacted several modifications for BCAP, including higher incentives for socially disadvantaged farmers, and narrower biomass qualifications for matching payments, among other changes.

BCAP employs three types of biomass assistance. For growing new biomass, BCAP provides financial assistance with 50% of the cost of establishing a perennial crop. To maintain the crop as it matures until harvest, BCAP provides an annual payment for up to five years for herbaceous crops, or up to 15 years for woody crops.

To collect existing agriculture or forest residues that are not economically retrievable, BCAP provides matching payments for mitigating the cost of harvesting and transporting the materials to the end-use facility.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will coordinate BCAP enrollments.

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