Livestock producers have bewailed the shrinking availability of saw dust for years. One reason for that decline is the success of USDA's innovative Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
BCAP authorizes Farm Service Agency payments of up to $45 a dry ton for eligible biomass deliveries to approved users. That has sparked deliveries of more than 4.18 million tons of biomass materials during its first phase. Since start-up, the program has paid eligible biomass owners more than $165 million in matching payments to help develop the biomass supply chain.
Phase two should kick in later this year, once the Farm Service Agency issues final rule for the program. But it's already been a boon to communities such as Guilford, Maine, says FSA Administrator Jonathan Coppess.
Hardwood Products Company General Manager Terry Young reports that BCAP enabled his company to hire 62 employees in Maine's poorest county where unemployment rates were the highest. This program also had a snowball effect, providing other Maine businesses critical operating revenue to sustain their businesses, he adds.
Co-generation of lower cost electricity are among those benefits, It helped reduce heating costs at an area textile plant employing 400 people and lowered costs for an area wood pellet manufacturing company.
"BCAP has spurred new capital investments among biomass producers, improved existing supply chains and spurred new uses among new consumers," notes Coppess. And it has improved forest health by removing uneconomical, diseased or invasive growth."
The Northeast, alone, has 97 approved biomass conversion facilities. Here's the state-by-state count:
- Massachusetts – 2
- Maine -- 26
- Maryland – 1
- New Hampshire – 11
- New Jersey – 1
- New York – 16
- Pennsylvania – 13
- Vermont – 20
- West Virginia – 7
More information, plus charts showing BCAP collection, harvest, storage and transportation components and summary reports are at: www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.