USDA launches BCAP, few oilseeds qualify

By Susanne Retka Schill | July 15, 2009
Posted July 30, 2009

The biodiesel industry is not likely to benefit much from one USDA program partially launched this week that is eagerly anticipated by facilities and farmers using dedicated biomass crops like switchgrass or crop residues for biofuels, power, heat or biobased products.

One segment of the USDA's Biomass Crop Assistance Program is now taking applications through local Farm Service Agency offices to give financial assistance for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation costs of biomass headed to biomass conversion facilities for use as heat, power, biobased products or biofuels. The USDA announced the implementation of a portion of the BCAP program on July 29 as the rule-writing process continues for the entire program. The proposed rule is expected to be published by the end of August or early September, with a public comment period to follow, according to USDA spokesmen.

When the full program is implemented it will include cost sharing for crop establishment and annual payments to producers of eligible crops headed to biomass conversion facilities. While biodiesel plants would qualify in the broad definition of conversion facilities, only producers working on developing new feedstocks have a chance to participate. Soybeans and other oilseeds currently listed as commodities eligible to receive payments under Title 1 of the 2008 Farm Bill are ineligible, including canola, mustard seed, sunflower, safflower, crambe, flaxseed and sesame seed. Other major biodiesel feedstocks are also ineligle including oils derived from animal wastes, food wastes and algae. Under the waste category however, non-edible fats, oils and greases from plants are eligible.

To learn more about the program and view the final proposed rule when published, visit the USDA's Biomass Crop Assistance Program Web site.
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