The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 6, 2018, a coalition of over 200 companies and trade associations sent a letter to the Agricultural Committee leaders in the House and Senate urging the reauthorization of and stable mandatory funding for the energy title programs in the next Farm Bill reauthorization.  The letter states that the Farm Bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments for more than 15 years with an incredibly modest, cost-effective investment.  The less than one tenth of one percent of Farm Bill spending dedicated to the programs has allowed for ag-based entrepreneurs to launch initiatives to generate jobs and economic development in areas such as biogas and advanced biofuels, biopower, biobased products, renewable chemicals, and energy efficiency.  Additionally, the letter provides recommendations for further improving the energy title programs.  For example, the Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP) could be opened fully to standalone renewable chemical companies; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) could be enhanced to support a fuller range of important, proven, market-ready technologies; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) could be effective in continuing to support biomass energy development and sustainably address hazardous fuels reduction efforts in our nation’s forests.


 

On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) had resumed incentives for farmers and foresters producing biomass for renewable energy and biobased products. BCAP has $3 million in available funding for fiscal year (FY) 2016. The program was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, and supports growers who produce energy biomass crops, or deliver forest and agriculture residues to a USDA-approved bioenergy or bioproducts facility. Facilities seeking enrollment in this program can apply through June 6, 2016. Farmers and forest landowners may enroll for biomass establishment and maintenance payouts for two existing projects cultivating shrub willow and giant miscanthus from June 15, 2016, through September 13, 2016. From June 15, 2016, through August 4, 2016, farmers and foresters may apply for biomass residue (including corn residue, diseased or insect infested wood materials, or orchard waste) removal and delivery incentives provided at a match of $1 for $1, up to $20 per dry ton.

Tags: USDA, FSA, BCAP, Biomass

 

On December 18, 2015, President Obama signed the omnibus spending bill, or Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, into law. The $1.1 trillion spending bill includes the retroactive extension of the $1 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel blenders through December 31, 2016, while extending the second-generation biofuel production credit through January 1, 2017. In addition to extending tax credits for biofuels, the bill also funds a wide range of government programs through the end of 2016, including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (BAP), and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).


 

On August 19, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the start of enrollment for financial assistance through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to assist in growing new sources of biomass. The enrollment is open for farmers and forest landowners who will be growing biomass for energy or designated biobased products. USDA is allocating $7.7 million for four existing BCAP project areas in New York, North Carolina, Ohio/Pennsylvania, and Kansas/Oklahoma. Biomass energy facilities or groups of producers can propose new BCAP project areas through November 6, 2015, at www.grants.gov.


 

In the past week, three significant letters have been sent to conferees charged with preparing in final the next five-year Farm Bill urging them to include an Energy Title that supports biofuel and renewable chemical development and production.


On November 1, 2013, 30 bi-partisan Members of Congress sent a letter to the leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry urging Farm Bill conferees to include and make necessary investments in an Energy Title. The letter stresses the importance of this support for renewable energy to the nation and its rural economies. In particular, the letter urges continued support for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP), and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). A copy of the letter is available online.


On November 4, 2013, 14 bi-partisan Senators sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee urging Farm Bill conferees to include an Energy Title as passed by the Senate earlier this year, which would include $900 million in mandatory funding and support for biofuels and expanded support for renewable chemicals. In particular, the letter stresses the importance of the REAP, BAP, and BCAP programs, as well as the Biobased Markets Program. A copy of the letter is available online.


Also, on November 4, 2013, over 130 organizations signed a letter sent to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees similar to the one sent by the 14 Senators described above. A copy of the letter is available online.