Press release: Biomass Crop Assistance Program needs clarification, improvement, says IATP
Minneapolis – The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) must undergo significant revision before the program’s next phase is launched, said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) in comments submitted on April 8 to the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA).
BCAP, a 2008 Farm Bill program, was created to help farmers
grow and sell new biomass crops for renewable energy. But the FSA’s
implementation of the program has come under widespread criticism for straying
far the program’s original intent. The FSA began the initial phase of the
program before setting clear rules for qualifying grants, and before it had
completed a full environmental impact statement as required under the National
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). As a result, nearly all of the more than $164
million in funding that has been awarded so far has gone to the forest paper
and products industries to burn lower-value wood for their own energy needs.
But as most of these users were already buying or using biomass for
pre-existing energy purposes, BCAP support does not seem to be contributing in
any substantial way to new renewable energy production or new supplies of
“Done right, BCAP could go a long way toward helping farmers
transition to growing perennial biomass crops and increasing renewable energy
production,” said Jim Kleinschmit, IATP Rural Communities Program Director.
“But so far, it appears neither farmers nor energy consumers have seen much
benefit from the millions of dollars already spent on this program.”
The FSA is expected to finalize rules for BCAP
implementation later this year. IATP’s recommendations for improving BCAP
- Modifying the current collection, harvest, storage and
transportation phase of the program to stop matching payments for woody,
agricultural and herbaceous resources and waste materials unless they were
sourced within a BCAP project area and used for new energy production.
- Establishing a competitive ranking process for the selection
of BCAP funded projects, giving priority to soil, water, climate and wildlife
protection as well as to local ownership opportunities and beginning and
socially disadvantaged farmers.
- Prioritizing perennial and dedicated energy crops by making
residues of annual crops or forests, and food and animal wastes, ineligible for
- Prohibiting genetically modified biomass crops or irrigation
in BCAP contract acres.
- Clearly ruling out conversion of forests, wetlands, prairies
or any natural ecosystems to biomass crops.
“There’s still time to right the ship on BCAP,” said IATP Senior Associate Julia Olmstead. “The best place to start is to revisit the original intent of the program, and take seriously the numerous constructive comments submitted on how to improve the program.”
IATP’s full comment to the FSA can be viewed here. The BCAP
comment period closed April 9. The USDA will announce a final rule later this
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Press release: Biomass Crop Assistance Program needs clarification, improvement, says IATP:
The comments to this entry are closed.