Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced nearly 10-million dollars in funding for the creation of new Biomass Crop Assistance Program project areas in New York and North Carolina – and the expansion of an established project area in Arkansas. USDA says this announcement provides the opportunity to expand non-food, energy crops used in the manufacturing of liquid biofuels and to help meet state mandated Renewable Portfolio Standards. According to Vilsack – these projects are the foundation for an even stronger energy future in rural America. Because energy crops are perennial and take time to mature before harvest – Vilsack says BCAP is designed to sufficient quantities of feedstock are available to meet future demand. Most importantly – the Secretary notes these crops can grow where other crops cannot – providing farmers with new opportunities to diversify into more markets.
BCAP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill. The program helps farmers and forest landowners with start-up costs of planting new energy crops. It is the only federal program that ensures sufficient biomass is available to reduce the nation’s reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce pollution and spur rural economic development and job creation.
More than four-thousand acres of Freedom® Giant Miscanthus and switch grass will be grown in the North Carolina project area. The crop production will support a cellulosic biorefinery with an expected annual production of 20-million gallons of bioethanol and downstream sustainable chemicals – as well as onsite biogas for power generation. It’s expected this project will create 65 direct jobs and 250 indirect jobs. The second new project area will help meet New York’s goal of sourcing 24-percent of electric and power generation from renewables by next year. This project area seeks to enroll up to 35-hundred acres in fast growing shrub willow to generate more than 100 megawatts of electricity. Industry estimates are that this will create 144 jobs.