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USDA establishes four additional Biomass Crop Assistance Program project areas

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.



If we put bio char on marginal land and plant grasses, we could get a good yield and lots of fuel.

Henry Gibson

There is not enough total cropland in the US to provide 25 percent of its automobile fuel needs and such use destroys the natural ecology with these new and unnatural plants. ..HG..


Whatever Henry, you are dead wrong and that is all.


Marginal land is a matter of perspective. If you're one of many species living on that land plowing and planting it in a single crop most certainly will have a detrimental effect on the ecology. A little common sense please, we're not the most important species on the planet.


Sascatcher: Whom do you fell is the most important species on the planet? If you feel all are equal, I hope you do not swat flies or mosquitos, walk across lawns (where you would kill hundreds of insects),etc.


We have one billion tons of biomass and most of that is from farmland already in production. That is 50 billion gallons of gasoline or more than 1/3 of the gasoline used each year in the U.S.

Now you plant the 100 million acres of farmland not suited to crops with grasses that yield 10 tons per acre of biomass and you have one billion tons for another 50 billion gallons or another 1/3 of the gasoline the U.S. uses every year.


If we use solar thermal for the gasification, we can double those yield numbers and produce 100 billion gallons from existing farm and grass biomass, which is more than 2/3 of the gasoline we use.

So don't say we can not even produce 25%, you do NOT know what they heck you are talking about, you are just talking BS.


to collect, transport, process and dry all that biomass will probably consume 25% of the total diesel budget for the whole country :)

We will have to run out of all grades of coal, shale and NG before this even gets close to becoming practical.


I'm referring to the species that contribute in a healthful way to the planet's ecology. Here in Minnesota we do have mosquitoes that I swat(it doesn't endanger the species)and many people would like to see mosquitoes completely eliminated but their larva feed aquatic life and the adults provide food for bats, swallows etc. Eliminating them would likely cause a ripple effect with other species impacted. Eliminating humans on the other hand would likely have a positive overall effect on the ecology of the state and if eliminated from the planet it too would reap the benefits of recovering from our destructive behavior. All of the other species of the planet are more important than humans in providing a positive effect on the planet's ecology. As a species we're most important in providing a negative impact on the health of that ecology.

In 1900 there were 1.5 billion humans on this planet. In 2000 6 billion, 4 times as many in just 100 years. By 2100 there could be 24 billion but more likely 12-18 billion. If one were watching from orbit since 1900 or sooner one would say there is a cancer growing on this planet especially visible along the coast lines. That cancer is us.

In the US we have 800 cars per 1000 individuals, China 50, India 15. They want to be like us, have a standard of living like ours. The planet won't survive it. We won't survive it. We can't grow enough of anything to provide sufficient fuel for our autos. Last year we built 73,000,000 vehicles in the world. By 2020 even if 10% are electric that other 90% will be greater than last years 73M. This is insane.

Currently humans provide no useful benefit, serve no useful purpose for this planet.


You locate the fuel plants near the biomass, no problem. IGCC plants can use coal, biomass and natural gas to make power AND fuel.


They should investigate growing it in more marginal areas, like the old dust bowl, high plains areas: OK, Co, Kan. Some parts are still scared and never recovered their original grasses (switchgrass?).


Marginal lands mean you can not grow a conventional crop. The last time I read, there are 100 million marginal acres in the U.S. that can grow 10 tons of grass per acre. That is 50 million gallons of fuel or more than 1/3 of the gasoline we use each year.


Basically, the world cannot grow enough feed stock to feed an extra 80+ M gas guzzlers and as many extra humans every year. A few countries like USA, Canada, Russia, Brazil and Australia could do it for a limited time but it is NOT sustainable worldwide.

Too many are looking at the wrong place for the solution.

Electrified vehicles + improved HVAC + improved industrial process + improved lighting + energy usage reduction programs and the production of clean (Solar-Wind-Wave-Geothermal-Hydro) etc etc e-power is required.


I don't care about worldwide, I care about America.


SJC....sooner or latter USA may need others to survive, at least to retain part of the current living standard. If you look around...the world... made USA what it is today. New technologies should be sustainable and will and should have worldwide applications. No country, even the biggest and most progressive (China) cannot live is isolation any more.
If Canada and OPEC were to turn off rude oil and gasoline supplies tomorrow, can you imagine what would happen to USA within 15 days?

USA needs the world as much if not more the the world need it.



the (c) between para 1 and 2 should drop to the next line to change (rude) into (crude)


We have farmland and can make fuels from coal, natural gas and biomass. That frees up world oil supplies for others that do not.


Partly right SJC.

If USA uses too much of its farm land to produce fuels, that would automatically reduce food production. World food price would double (and more) again. The pain (higher food price) would be distributed worldwide, included in USA.

Using existing coal and NG/SG reserves is a strong possibity but they are not clean nor sustainable sources.

USA-Canada-Australia, like the rest of the world, will have to use cleaner more sustainable energy sources in the future. We cannot go backward while the rest of the world goes forward.


Harvey, it is NOT food for fuel, get off that dead horse. Cellulose biomass is NOT food. We can gasify coal and biomass then add some natural gas and make any fuel we want WITHOUT affecting food supplies.


This is precisely WHY we need synthetic fuels, so OPEC and Canada CAN sell their oil to others.

HarveyD are not soon as biomass sells better that food products, they will switch from food production to biomass production, because it would be much less labor intensive and less costly to do so.

The switch could be very fast, between 2 to 5 years.

Corn fields could become switch grass fields almost overnight.


Corn sells for almost $7 per bushel and they get more than 100 bushels per acre. With 10 tons of biomass they get $40 per dry ton. $800 versus $400 will not make them switch to growing grass. It will however allow them to put marginal land into grass production and sell their corn stover, wheat straw and rice straw for more profit.


SJC, I'm not sure where you're getting your 1 billion ton figure. "The Billion-Ton Vision" found the potential of 1.3 billion, but only about half of that was available at the time of the report.


I don't know there you are getting the "vision" thing, it is called the Billion Ton Study.


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