Earlier this year, USDA announced five BCAP project areas where energy crops will be grown on up to 250,000 acres in 66 counties in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Of the new programs, two of the project areas, targeted for California, Montana, Washington and Oregon, “will grow camelina at a significant scale. Camelina, an oilseed, is a rotation crop for wheat that can be established on marginally productive land. Biofuel from camelina is an ideal jet fuel substitute.”

Another BCAP project area “will encourage growth of hybrid poplar trees in Oregon. The goal is to enroll up to 7,000 acres. This project is part of a series of measures that comprise USDA's Wood-to-Energy Initiative. It seeks to build a forest restoration economy by integrating energy feedstock within the larger forest products sector to sustain rural jobs and prosperity.”

In Kansas and Oklahoma, a BCAP project sponsored by Abengoa Biofuels “has been designated to grow up to 20,000 acres of switchgrass. The project area surrounds the future facility's biomass conversion facility in Hugoton, Kan.”

According to the USDA, it has allocated approximately $45 million for contracts that range between less than five years up to 15 years in the four project areas for producers who volunteer to enroll in BCAP. Producers who enter into BCAP contracts are eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the establishment costs of the perennial energy crop, and up to five years of annual maintenance payments for herbaceous crops and up to 15 years for woody crops.

The sign-up period for these four new project areas will begin on Aug. 8. The deadline to sign up for the project areas is Sept. 16. Producers interested in participating in the project areas should visit their local FSA county office. Information about BCAP may be found at www.fsa.usda.gov/bcap.