Montana Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices will soon begin accepting applications for the three-state Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), said Dick Deschamps, USDA Farm Service Agency acting state exectuvie director for Montana. Sign-up for the project, which was announced this week by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, will begin on Aug. 8, 2011 and has a Sept. 16, 2011 deadline.
BCAP, created in the 2008 Farm Bill, helps farmers and forest landowners with start-up costs of planting non-food energy crops for conversion to heat, power, biobased products and advanced Biofuels. BCAP is designed to ensure sufficient biomass is available to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil, improve domestic energy security, reduce pollution and spur rural economic development and job creation.
"We're pleased that this BCAP project will allow Montana farmers the opportunity to produce camelina to be converted to renewable fuels and to help assist with our country's energy independence," Deschamps said.
The three-state project targets Montana, California, and Washington to grow camelina on a significant scale, including up to 15,000 acres in Montana and 50,000 total acres. Camelina, an oilseed, can be established on marginally productive land. Biofuel from camelina is an ideal jet fuel substitute.
AltAir Fuels, LLC, a Washington-state based company, is the project sponsor. The company was formed in 2008 to develop projects for the production of jet fuel from renewable and sustainable oils. AltAir Fuels and its partners are designing and building a network of renewable jet-fuel production facilities. The first plants, which will be located in Bakersfield, California and Washington are expected to create hundreds of jobs—265 immediately and an estimated 1925 at full-scale production—and to reduce billions of pounds of carbon emissions. Production is anticipated to begin in late 2012.
FSA will administer the BCAP program on behalf of the Commodity Credit Corporation with conservation planning assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and other partners. FSA will enter into 5-year contracts with landowners and operators in the project area.Producers enrolled in BCAP will receive annual rental payments based on the farm’s weighted soil rental rate (SRR) plus an additional incentive of 50 percent. For example, if a farm has a soil rental rate of $30 per acre, the producer would receive an annual rental payment based on $45 (the $30 soil rental rate plus the 50 percent incentive) multiplied by the camelina acres enrolled in BCAP. A percentage reduction, starting as low as 1 percent, is then assessed depending on where the camelina is delivered.
The estimated total annual rental payment amount for the project area is $20 million over five years.
Producers interested in participating in the project should visit their local FSA county office. Information about BCAP can be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.