The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established four additional Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas to promote the cultivation of crops that can be processed into renewable energy. Acreage in Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania will be designated to grow giant miscanthus, a sterile hybrid warm-season grass that can be converted into energy to be used for heat, power, liquid biofuels, and bio-based products.
Yields for biomass from giant miscanthus are expected to range between 10 and 12 tons of dry matter per acre and can be as high as 15 tons per acre. BCAP project areas provide financial incentives to eligible agriculture producers to establish dedicated energy crops that will be used for production of heat, power, liquid biofuels or bio-based products. A project area must have specific boundaries that are approved by the Secretary of Agriculture.
Project areas announced include:
Project Area Number 2 is in Arkansas and targets 2011 enrollment of 5,588 acres in Craighead, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, and Randolph counties. The sponsor for this project is MFA Oil Biomass LLC and the project area surrounds the co-op’s biomass conversion facility in Paragould, Ark.
Project Area Number 3 is in Missouri, and targets 2011 enrollment of 3,000 acres in Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, Monroe and Randolph counties. The sponsor for this project is MFA Oil Biomass LLC and the project area surrounds the co-op’s biomass conversion facility in Columbia, Mo.
Project Area Number 4 is in Missouri, and targets 2011 enrollment of 5,250 acres in Barry, Christian, Dade, Jasper, Lawrence, Newton, and Stone counties. The sponsor for this project is MFA Oil Biomass LLC and the project area surrounds the co-op’s biomass conversion facility in Aurora, Mo.
Project Area Number 5 is in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania and targets 2011 enrollment of 5,344 acres in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull, Ohio, and Crawford, Erie, and Mercer counties, Pennsylvania. The sponsor for this project is Aloterra Energy, LLC and the project area surrounds the company’s biomass conversion facility in Ashtabula, Ohio.
USDA estimates that each of the four project areas and conversion facilities would earn about $50 million per year. According to industry estimates, a large number of biorefinery, agriculture and support jobs will be created in each area.
Earlier this year, USDA announced BCAP Project Area 1 that comprised up to 50,000 acres for establishing a dedicated energy crop of native grasses and forbs for energy purposes in 39 counties in central and western Missouri and eastern Kansas.
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) provides financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks. BCAP provides two categories of assistance:
Matching payments may be available for the delivery of eligible material to qualified biomass conversion facilities by eligible material owners. Qualified biomass conversion facilities produce heat, power, biobased products, or advanced biofuels from biomass feedstocks.
Establishment and annual payments may be available to certain producers who enter into contracts with the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to produce eligible biomass crops on contract acres within BCAP project areas.
The sign-up period for the new project areas will begin on Monday, 20 June 2011. The deadline to sign up for the project areas will be announced at a later date. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), administering the program on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation with conservation planning assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other partners, will enter into contracts with landowners and operators in these project areas. Producers interested in participating in the project areas should visit their local FSA county office.