Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week the availability of up to $8.7 million in funding for bioenergy research and education efforts as well as publishing the final rule for a program that provides incentives for farmers and forest landowners interested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy. Both programs are made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. The Secretary made the announcements during remarks to the Growth Energy Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.
"USDA's support for innovative bioenergy research and education supports rural economic development, reduces carbon pollution and helps decrease our dependence on foreign energy," said Vilsack. "These investments will keep America moving toward a clean energy economy and offer new jobs and opportunities in rural communities."
USDA will publish the final rule on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) in tomorrow's Federal Register. BCAP provides up to $25 million each year in financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks to a qualifying energy facility. The rule includes modifications to cost sharing, eligible types of biomass and other definitions.
USDA is also taking applications for research and education grants through the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI). BRDI is a joint program through NIFA and the U.S. Energy Department (DOE) to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass, increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products to help replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles, and diversify our energy portfolio.
Applicants seeking BRDI funding must propose projects that integrate science and engineering research in the following three areas: feedstock development; biofuels and biobased products development; and biofuels development analysis. Past projects include a grant to the Quad County Corn Cooperative in Galva, Iowa that is retrofitting an existing corn starch ethanol plant to add value to its byproducts, which will be marketed to the feed markets and to the biodiesel industry. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in Findlay, Ohio, is seeking to use remaining plant residue from the guayule shrub, which is used for rubber production, for use in biopower and for conversion to jet fuel precursors. The University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin, is developing closed-loop energy systems using dairy manure as source of fiber and fertilizer.
Both BCAP and BRDI were made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer.
Source: USDA – United States Department of Agriculture