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biomass crop assistance program

The Answer to Non-irrigated, Marginal Soil in Northeast Arkansas – Giant Miscanthus

There’s a lot that a farmer can grow in northeast Arkansas.  Most producers choose rice and cotton.  Some plant soybeans, corn and sorghum; row crops, mostly, according to Charles Glover, manager, Ritter Agribusiness.

Glover works with landowners, their tenants and producers who farm 40,000 acres between Jonesboro, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., much of it in Poinsett County.

Farmer Does as Teacher Says – All in One

If you teach it, you must live it.  That is the wisdom Steven R. Kochemba adheres to.

Kochemba is a science teacher and the athletic director for the Joseph Badger School District in Trumbull County north of Youngstown, Ohio.  He’s also a farmer.

Among his other science courses, Kochemba teaches 8th and 9th graders about energy conservation.  While doing research for his classes, “I ran across information about BCAP,” says the educator.

BCAP: Consider It a Holliday Wish Come True

Chris Holliday has more pastureland than he needs for his cows—335 acres to be exact. So when USDA introduced a way to use that land to help create clean energy while reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, he saw it as an opportunity.

“I thought it was a good idea and I had a good feeling about it,” said Holliday, owner of Holliday Investment in Prairie Home, Mo. He is one of several farmers that signed up acreage in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, last year. All 335 acres will be used to plant Miscanthus, a giant perennial grass that can be processed into a biofuel.

The USDA incentive greatly reduces farmers’ expenses to finance the planting, harvesting and delivery of the Miscanthus for processing. BCAP pays farmers up to 75 percent of the planting costs and offers an annual rental payment while producers wait for the crop to mature, which takes about three years.

The Energy Behind Alternative Energy

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, is still in its infancy, but its potential success has producers and businesses wanting more.

“We have people on a waiting list,” said Tim Wooldridge, Arkansas project manager with MFA Oil Biomass. MFA was selected by USDA to manage three of nine project areas in fiscal year 2011. Each project area was awarded federal funding to provide incentives to farmers to grow non-food crops that can be processed into biofuels. “Our initial target in the Arkansas project was 5,000 acres, which we surpassed in signing up 6,588 acres. We now have 1,500 acres on a waitlist. We could easily get another 6,000.”

Ohioans See Giganteus Future

Miscanthus giganteus was a tall, bothersome grass a few years back, a good privacy plant, but to some, just a weed.  It could grow about anywhere, reaching heights of 12-15 feet, and do it perennially for 20 years or more.

Some say Miscanthus giganteus had a bad reputation, but it doesn’t bother Terry Lowe anymore.  He’s hoping to turn it into renewable energy while it grows on 31 acres of his 66-acre farm in Ashtabula County, Ohio.

First BCAP Project Area Aims to Reduce American Dependence on Foreign Oil

In an announcement released this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack established the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote the next generation of biofuels.

The announcement comes as Americans are pinching pennies due to gas prices climbing to over $4 a gallon. “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require investments in projects like we are announcing today,” said Vilsack.

Boosting Advanced Biofuel Production and Creating Jobs

Cross-posted from the White House blog.

Our country needs a strong, vibrant rural economy.  Advanced biofuel production will help create it. Not only will biofuel production from non-food sources create new jobs and new streams of farm income, it will improve environmental quality and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel imported from foreign countries.

Biomass and Biofuel – What’s in it for Hawaii’s Agriculture?

Hawaii and the Pacific Basin

The dwindling global supply of fossil fuels and the resulting escalation in prices has set the stage for entry of commercial biofuel produced from biomass, including co-products and bi-products.  This transition in the energy sector’s feed stocks offers Hawaii a unique opportunity to locally produce biofuel from locally produced biomass feed stocks, and ultimately support the stabilization of the state’s energy resources; increase the local circulation of energy dollars; and further under gird Hawaii’s agricultural industry.