US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Val Dolcini announced that the final rule to implement the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) is complete and available to view in the Federal Register. This 2008 farm bill program is part of USDA’s effort to assist a developing bio-based renewable energy industry.

"In California, the Farm Service Agency is helping to lead the administration’s effort to help rural communities create jobs, clean the environment and replace our dependence on foreign oil," said Dolcini. "In every state, USDA’s green energy programs support rural economies and help build a healthy foundation for economic growth."

BCAP is designed to ensure that a sufficiently large base of new, non-food, non-feed biomass crops is established in anticipation of future demand for renewable energy.

The BCAP final regulation was developed as a result of more than 24,000 comments received by USDA. Implementation of a portion of the program in 2009 also provided practical information and data for final rule determinations.

BCAP uses a dual approach to support the production of renewable energy. BCAP assists both agricultural and forest landowners and operators by providing matching payments for the transportation of certain eligible materials that are sold to qualified biomass conversion facilities. The facilities then convert these materials into heat, power, biobased products or advanced biofuels.

In addition, BCAP provides assistance for the establishment and production of eligible renewable biomass crops within specified project areas. Producers who enter into BCAP contracts may receive an initial payment of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing eligible perennial crops. Further, they can receive annual payments for up to five years for growing annual or perennial herbaceous or non-woody crops and up to 15 years for woody crops. FSA will soon be accepting project area proposals and, after project area proposals have been approved, eligible producers may participate by enrolling at their FSA county office.

For more information about BCAP and other energy programs, contact your local FSA office or visit the website to review the revised BCAP Factsheet under Energy Programs at http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=landing&topic=landing.