USDA Invests in Biofuels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is demonstrating its commitment to biofuels and ethanol, recently announcing the establishment of up to 50,000 acres of land in Missouri devoted to the production of biofuel crops. The announcement is part of the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). The program offers financial assistance to farmers who commit to growing and producing biomass feedstocks.

The total area, 39 contiguous counties in Missouri and Kansas, is the first BCAP project area. Producers who sign up with the program would receive financial assistance from the USDA, in order to offset the costs of redirecting their farm production entirely to biofuel crops, and could be reimbursed for up to 75% of their production costs. In exchange, the 50,000 acres proposed would be dedicated entirely to the perennial production of biomass crops (largely native plants and grasses which can be used for power and heat generation).

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack hopes that the BCAP project could revolutionize American energy and would serve as a major step on the path to energy independence. In addition, Vilsack hoped that the biomass program could reinvigorate the economy, producing needed jobs in a bad economic climate. In a statement, Vilsack linked the future of the American economy to renewable energy, claiming, “By encouraging production of feedstocks that can be converted into next-generation biofuels we are boosting the rural economy, creating jobs, contributing to America’s energy security and protecting our planet. Investments like this spark creation of new industries and is a key part of our effort to keep America competitive and win the future.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer