FSA programs explained: Biomass Crop Assistance Program | TSLN.com

FSA programs explained: Biomass Crop Assistance Program

For the August 13, 2011 edition of Tri-State Livestock News.

There is a little known program administered by the Farm Service Agency called the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). The program offers an opportunity to develop markets for alternative crops (including timber) to be utilized as biofuels.

The BCAP is a program designed to assist in establishing, collecting, harvesting, storing and transporting crops that will be converted into bio-energy. Within the program there are two main participants: the crop producer and the biomass converter. These two participants are essential to the program.

The biomass converter is a biomass conversion facility. This facility must convert or propose to convert the eligible material to heat, power, bio-based products, or advanced biofuels. The crop producer is anyone that owns a crop eligible for biomass conversion. Commodity crops (corn, wheat, canola, sunflowers, etc.) are not eligible crops for biomass conversion. For a definition of eligible crops under BCAP, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.

In order for producers to participate in the BCAP, the producers must deliver their eligible biomass crop to a biomass conversion facility that has been approved as a Qualified Biomass Conversion Facility. In order to become a qualified facility, the biomass converter must apply through the Farm Service Agency and abide by the terms of being a qualified facility. Once a facility is considered a qualified facility, producers of eligible biomass crops may deliver their crops to the facility. The producer is then eligible to receive a matching payment for their crops from the Farm Service Agency. The FSA will match dollar for dollar for the price paid for their biomass crops up to $45 per dry ton. Producers are eligible to receive matching payments for up to two years.

The BCAP also offers the opportunity to develop “project areas.” These project areas are 5- to 15-year contracts in which the Farm Service Agency pays producers annual rental payment to produce an eligible biomass crop. These project areas are submitted through the Farm Service Agency and are sponsored by a biomass conversion facility or a group of producers. The Farm Service Agency recently released a listing of approved BCAP project areas. For example, the BCAP Project Area 7 includes five counties in Kansas and one county in Oklahoma. The project supports the establishment of a mixture or perennial native grasses to be used in the manufacturing of liquid biofuels. For a full listing of these BCAP project areas, visit http://www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.

The opportunities available through the BCAP are primarily hinged upon the availability of Qualified Biomass Conversion Facility. Project areas and matching payments are simply unavailable unless a conversion facility establishes a market for these products. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program is a great opportunity to develop a market for alternative crops and uses.

The BCAP is very broad in terms of what qualifies as an eligible biomass crop and what qualifies as a biomass conversion facility. Each individual case is different. If you have use for biomass, you may be eligible to become a Qualified Biomass Conversion Facility, please contact your local Farm Service Agency Service Center for additional information.

james r. neill is the county executive director for the farm service agency in meade county, sd and may be contacted at james.neill@sd.usda.gov. please contact your local farm service agency service center for additional information about the biomass crop assistance program or any other program administered by the farm service agency.

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