Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has mandated minimum volumes of biofuels in the national transportation fuel supply, of which cellulose-based fuels will be a component after 2016, and a major component by 2021. These projections imply that cellulose-based fuels will be commercially available at competitive prices. Expectations may be lowered over time. In either case, a reliable supply of cellulosic biomass will be needed in the future. Policy is being implemented to provide this.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) Energy Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), works to provide financial support to private landowners. Owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forestland are eligible for assistance if their objective is to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks.

Assistance from BCAP is divided into two authorized funding categories:

  • Certain landowners who participate in contracts with the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to generate eligible biomass crops on contract acres within BCAP projects areas may qualify for both establishment payments and annual payments.
  • Matching payments may be obtainable for the distribution of eligible material to qualified biomass conversion facilities by eligible material owners. Qualified biomass conversion facilities produce heat, power, bio-based products, or advanced biofuels from biomass feedstocks.

Program Objectives

BCAP works to support the establishment and production of crops, including woody biomass, for conversion to bioenergy; this part of BCAP is called “establishment of annual payments.” The program also works to assist with the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of eligible material for use in biomass conversion facilities; this is called “matching payments.” In response to a presidential directive to accelerate the development of advanced biofuels, the BCAP, as a partner to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), works to meet such need.

“Additionally, BCAP will provide funding for producers of eligible renewable crops within a select geographical area to receive payments up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing the crop and annual payments for up to 15 years for crop production,” [2]. Once a geographical area within the U.S. is approved by the USDA as a project area, producers are eligible for establishment payments—to help get biomass crops planted.

FSA news release, dated 3 Feb 2010 and titled, Biomass Crop Assistance Program to Spur Production of Renewable Energy, Job Creation — A Vermont Elementary School that will replace 100% of its fossil fuel consumption with biomass is one of the early beneficiaries of the BCAP program. Two additional examples of early BCAP beneficiaries include, “a start-up pellet company that uses locally-grown agriculture residues from Iowa farms, and a rural electric cooperative that displaces fossil fuels with woodchips to generate low-cost electricity in northeastern Georgia,” [2].

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