USDA recently named additional states that will participate in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, designed to expand the availability of non-food crops to be used for liquid biofuels.
The projects — which will be implemented in California, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington — will create more than 3,400 jobs (estimated) and, when fully operational, produce more than two million gallons of biofuels annually.
According to Secretary Vilsack, the Obama Administration is committed to providing financial opportunities to rural communities, farmers and ranchers to produce biomass which will be converted to renewable fuels and increase America’s energy independence. In all, about 51,000 acres are targeted to be enrolled in California, Montana, Washington and Oregon, and will grow camelina, an oilseed. Camelina is a rotation crop for wheat that can be established on marginally productive land. It is an ideal jet fuel substitute.
Another 7,000 acres in Oregon will be used for the growth of hybrid poplar trees. This project is part of a series of measures that comprise USDA’s Wood-to-Energy initiative and seeks to build a forest restoration economy by integrating energy feedstock within the larger forest products sector to sustain rural jobs.
Project areas in Kansas and Oklahoma will aim to grow 20,000 acres of switchgrass. Earlier this year, USDA announced five BCAP project areas where energy crops will be grown on up to 250,000 acres in 66 counties in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Ohio. These crops, such as switchgrass and giant miscanthus, are the first-ever national investments in expanding U.S. biomass resources to meet domestic energy security.
USDA has allocated funds for contracts that range up to 15 years for producers who volunteer to enroll. Producers who enter into BCAP contracts are eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the establishment costs of the perennial energy crop and up to five years of annual maintenance payments for herbaceous crops. Reimbursement for woody crops is up to 15 years.