By David Marrison, OSU Extension Educator
On June 15, 2011 the USDA announced the establishment of four additional Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas to promote the cultivation of giant miscanthus that can be converted into energy to be used for heat, power, liquid biofuels, and bio-based products. One of the areas accepted was been Ashtabula County in Northeast, Ohio and targets 2011 enrollment of 5,344 acres in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull, Ohio, and Crawford, Erie, and Mercer counties, Pennsylvania. The sponsor for this project is Aloterra Energy, LLC and the project area surrounds the company’s biomass conversion facility in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Selected producers are eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing a perennial bioenergy crop. They can receive up to five years of annual payments for planting miscanthus. Assistance for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of crops to facilities will be also available for two years, per producer, in the form of a matching payment for up to $45 per ton of the delivery cost.
BCAP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, is a primary component of the strategy to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce pollution and spur rural economic development and job creation. The sign-up period to receive BCAP money began on Monday, June 20, 2011. Click here to read the complete information on the BCAP Program.The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will be administering the program with conservation planning assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Producers interested in participating in the project areas should visit their local FSA county office (check out http://www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.