Last Updated January 26, 2010
Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)
Providing financial assistance to producers or entities that deliver eligible biomass material to designated biomass conversion facilities
Authorized under Section 9011 of the 2008 Farm Bill, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is designed to:
- support the establishment and production of eligible crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected BCAP project areas; and
- assist agricultural and forest land owners and operators with collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of eligible material for use in a biomass conversion facility.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is currently working to develop and implement the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. FSA is preparing an environmental impact study. After this impact study is drafted, FSA plans to publish more specific program provisions as regulations for BCAP in the Federal Register. Although exact dates are not available for this rulemaking, FSA hopes to implement BCAP in time for the 2010 crop year.
Application and Financial Information
BCAP is a Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with the support of other federal and local agencies. Potential project sponsors apply for selection as Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas.
The 2008 Farm Bill authorizes 3 types of payments under BCAP:
- Establishment payments for up to 75% of cost of establishing an eligible biomass crop for BCAP contract acreage.
- Annual payments to support production for BCAP contract acreage.
- Collection, harvest, storage, and transportation (CHST) payments of up to $45/ton for 2 years for collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of eligible material to a biomass conversion facility from BCAP contract acreage and other sources.
Although the program is not required to disburse a specified annual amount, the law authorizes USDA to use, from CCC funds, "sums as are necessary" to successfully implement BCAP. The office of Management and Budget in consultation with USDA will decide funding apportionments based upon demand for the program, administration priorities, and other considerations.
Eligibility, Uses, and Restrictions
Biomass production must occur on either agricultural land or non-industrial private forest land and excludes federal and State owned land, Conservation Reserve Program, and similar land protection programs and native sod.
BCAP project areas are selected based on:
- A description of the eligible land and eligible crops of each producer that will participate in the proposed BCAP project area;
- A letter of commitment from a biomass conversion facility that the facility will use eligible crops intended to be produced in the proposed BCAP project area;
- Evidence that the biomass conversion facility has sufficient equity available if the facility is not operational at the time the project area proposal is submitted;
- Other appropriate information.
BCAP project area selection criteria include the following nine factors:
- The volume of the eligible crops proposed to be produced in the proposed BCAP project area and the probability that such crops will be used for BCAP purposes;
- The volume of renewable biomass projected to be available from sources other than the eligible crops grown on contract acres;
- The anticipated economic impact in the proposed BCAP project area;
- The opportunity for producers and local investors to participate in the ownership of the biomass conversion facility in the proposed BCAP project area;
- The participation rate by beginning or socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers;
- The impact on soil, water, and related resources;
- The variety in biomass production approaches within a project area, including agronomic conditions, harvest and postharvest practices, and monoculture and polyculture crop mixes;
- The range of eligible crops among project areas; and
- Any other additional information determined necessary by the Secretary of Agriculture.
Contract terms are up to 5 years for annual and perennial crops and up to 15 years for woody biomass crops. USDA will determine whether project proposals meet the minimum threshold for selection based on criteria in the statue and rank proposals based on the nine general criteria listed above.
Eligible biomass crops do not include those crops eligible for commodity payments under Title I of the 2008 Farm Bill, invasive or noxious plants, animal waste and byproducts, food and yard waste, or algae.
Conservation Plans or Forest Stewardship plans must be adhered to by BCAP participants, who also must be in compliance with the highly erodible and wetlands compliance provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985, as amended.
USDA had not yet published the Federal Rules to implement the program by the time this directory was published. Additional uses of CCC funds for this program are currently unknown.
Paul Harte, USDA/FSA/CEPD-KC