March 26, 2010
The addition of an Energy Title to the 2008 Farm Bill was an important acknowledgment of the critical and emerging role for agriculture in the production of renewable energy. Particularly promising was the creation of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to provide incentives to farmers and foresters for the production of energy efficient and resource conserving bio-energy crops. Congress intended the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to especially encourage the production of perennial crops and to shift bioenergy production away from corn and other food or animal feed crops.
Administration of BCAP at USDA was handed to the Farm Service Agency (FSA) which finally released a proposed rule for BCAP last month. The rule completely fails to target its incentives or to set the project priorities necessary to usher in that new generation of bioenergy crops produced in sustainable systems.
Even before the rule issued, FSA was actively doling out a BCAP subsidy for the collection, harvest, storage and transport (CHST) of biomass fuel stocks from agricultural land and forests. FSA is in the process of handing out more than $500 million dollars in CHST subsidies this year with no regard for the economic or environmental consequences. The Washington Post chronicled the distorting effect the subsidy was having in the cabinetry manufacturing industry.
FSA is inviting public comments on their proposed rule and hopefully they’ll get an earful from those who want to see agriculture play an environmentally and fiscally responsible role in renewable energy production. Comments are due on April 9, 2010. You can get more information and submit a comment directly from the Take Action section of our website by clicking here.
Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment