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May 11, 2011

USDA Announces Project to Develop Next-Generation Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on May 5 the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project area, which will promote the production of dedicated feedstocks for bioenergy. This initiative, encompassing 39 counties in Missouri and Kansas, will help spur the development of next-generation biofuels. The first BCAP project area proposes enrolling up to 50,000 acres for growing a crop of native grasses and herbaceous plants for energy purposes. Producers in the project area will plant mixes of perennial native plants, such as switchgrass, for the manufacture of biomass pellet fuels and other biomass products. Those will be used for power and heat generation. Bioenergy facilities are those facilities that produce heat, power, biobased products, or advanced biofuels from biomass feedstocks.

The project is a joint effort of the agriculture producers of Show Me Energy Cooperative of Centerview, Missouri, and USDA to spur the expansion of domestically produced biomass feedstocks for renewable energy. Crop producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75% of the cost of establishing a bioenergy perennial crop, and they can receive up to five years of annual payments for grassy crops, and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops. Signup began on May 9. See the USDA press release.