In an announcement released this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack established the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote the next generation of biofuels.
The announcement comes as Americans are pinching pennies due to gas prices climbing to over $4 a gallon. “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require investments in projects like we are announcing today,” said Vilsack.
USDA will collaborate with Show Me Energy Cooperative of Centerview, Mo., to launch the first BCAP project area in 39 counties in Missouri and Kansas. Up to 50,000 acres are expected to be enrolled and dedicated to the planting of native grasses ad herbaceous plants for energy purposes.
“By encouraging production of feedstocks that can be converted into next-generation biofuels we are boosting the rural economy, creating jobs, contributing to America’s energy security and protecting our planet. Investments like this spark creation of new industries and is a key part of our effort to keep America competitive and win the future.”
Producers who enroll will plant mixes of perennial plants such as switchgrass for the manufacture of biomass pellet fuels. Other biomass products will be used for power and heat generation.
Proposals are currently being accepted by USDA from bioenergy facilities and crop producers interested in participating. If selected, producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing a bioenergy perennial crop and can receive up to five years of annual payments for grassy crops and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops.
The signup period for this project area will begin on Monday, May 9, 2011. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.