On March 22 USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Bruce Nelson announced the application period for the next round of Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Areas. Proposals will be accepted until April 23, 2012.
"BCAP provides incentives to farmers and forest landowners to grow non-food crops to be processed into biofuels – a critical element of our national energy strategy to address high fuel prices and reduce reliance on foreign oil," said Nelson. "Because most energy crops are perennial and take time to mature before harvest, BCAP is designed so that sufficient quantities of feedstock will be available to meet future demand. And because these crops can grow where other crops cannot, it provides farmers with new opportunities to diversify into more markets."
BCAP provides incentive to farmers to grow non-food crops for biofuel production
The BCAP Project Areas where these crops are grown will be selected from proposals producers or biomass facilities submit to FSA. Information about submitting a proposal can be found on the www.grants.gov website.
BCAP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA selected nine project areas in FY 2011, which resulted in the approval of more than 860 producer contracts to grow camelina, hybrid poplar, warm season grasses and giant miscanthus on almost 50,000 acres. The total investment in those projects is estimated to be $55 million. On Nov. 18, 2011, Congress enacted the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, limiting the total amount of funding available for BCAP to $17 million. The Request for Proposal and additional information can be found at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.
To acquire information about grants available through the federal government:
Conservation Reserve Program general sign-up deadline is April 6
In other FSA news, John Whitaker, state executive director of USDA's Farm Service Agency in Iowa, reminds farmers that the deadline for enrolling land into the FSA's general Conservation Reserve Program is April 6, 2012.
Interested producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to begin the signup process. Producers are also reminded that offers need to be completed in their entirety by the end of the sign up, April 6, in order to be considered eligible. "Interested persons need to talk to our local FSA offices now," he says.
Following sign-up, all offers for CRP will be evaluated and ranked using an Environmental Benefits Index for the environmental benefits to be gained from enrolling the land in CRP. The EBI consists of five environmental factors (wildlife, water, soil, air and enduring benefits) and a cost factor. Decisions on the EBI cutoff will be made after the sign-up ends and after analyzing the EBI data of all the offers.
CRP is the largest voluntary private-land conservation program. It helps farmers, ranchers and other ag producers use their environmentally sensitive land for conservation purposes. In return for offering the land, FSA provides participants annual rental payments, and cost share on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation. For more information on CRP, contact your county FSA office or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.