What is in this article?:
- The USDA Farm Service Agency and Sustainable Oils want to sign contracts with California farmers to grow 25,000 acres of the oilseed crop camelina.
- Camelina oil converted to liquid biofuels is a high-quality renewable replacement for jet fuel.
- FSA-grower camelina contracts are eligible for rental payments based on the farm’s weighted soil rental rate plus an additional incentive of 50 percent per acre.
- The FSA contract sign-up period ends Sept. 16, 2011.
3,400 new jobs
Industry estimates suggest the nationwide BCAP program, including camelina and other renewable crops, could generate 3,400 new jobs in the biorefinery, agriculture, and supporting sectors with more than two million gallons of biofuels produced annually at full production.
In California, the BCAP-camelina project sponsor is AltAir Fuels which will crush the camelina oil and refine it into jet fuel. AltAir Fuels will provide the fuel to the jet fuel market with a blending mixture similar to most ethanol-based fuel – in this case a mixture of about 90 percent petroleum-based jet fuel and about 10 percent camelina fuel.
“The (BCAP) program will dramatically expand camelina acres (in the U.S.) by reducing risk for farmers, facilitating production of lower cost feedstock, and therefore a commercially viable path to domestic, sustainable fuels that are price competitive with petroleum fuel,” said Tom Todaro, AltAir Fuels chief executive officer.
The second contract California camelina growers will sign is with Sustainable Oils, based in Bozeman, Mont., and a contracted supplier to AltAir Fuels. Sustainable Oils is the sole company offering grower contracts under the BCAP program.
“This is an exciting development for camelina production,” said Scott Johnson, Sustainable Oils president. “We’re seeing strong demand for biofuel produced from camelina, and the BCAP program will help boost production in order to meet that demand.”
Johnson told Western Farm Press that one acre of California-grown camelina will produce 80 to 100 gallons of camelina-based jet fuel. Farmer contracts with Sustainable Fuels will require a five-year camelina production commitment.
“I don’t think we’ll have any trouble getting 25,000 acres for camelina production in California,” Johnson said.
Johnson, a native Californian, owns an almond ranch with his brothers in Turlock, Calif. He graduated from the University of California, Davis with an entomology degree.
Farmers with Sustainable Oils contracts will plant the company’s certified non-GMO seed. The company is researching GMO varieties for possible future release.
Sustainable Oils’ seed will be distributed through Wilbur Ellis and Ag-Seeds Unlimited Lima’s Division. Farmers with production contract questions can contact Bill Cox at Wilbur Ellis at (559) 909-0668 or Scot Goble at Ag-Seeds Unlimited at (559) 730-8400.
Sustainable Oils has conducted crop trials in California for the last three years with good results. The company also provided seed for energy crop trials conducted by University of California agronomist Steve Kaffka.