USDA Taking Applications for Biorefinery Assistance Program

November 19, 2008 06:00 PM

Pro Farmer Editors

USDA is now accepting applications for loan guarantees of up to $250 million under the Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003), authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. The program is aimed at promoting development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program provides loan guarantees for the development, construction and retrofitting of viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The maximum loan guarantee is $250 million per project subject to the availability of funds. Preference will be given to projects where first-of-a-kind technology will be deployed on a commercial scale.

Advanced biofuels are defined as fuels that do not rely on corn kernel starch as the feedstock. For example, research has shown that cellulosic ethanol production -- a key next generation biofuel -- may be produced from switch grass, corn stover, forest waste, fast-growing trees, woodchips, canola, algae and other plant material rather than from the edible part of crops such as corn. These energy crops require further research and development but they represent a key long-term component to a sustainable biofuels industry.

To be considered for funding in the first half of Fiscal Year 2009, applications must be completed and submitted no later than December 31, 2008, to the USDA Rural Development National Office, Energy Branch, Attention: Biorefinery Assistance Program, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, STOP 3225, Washington, DC, 20250-3225.

To be considered for funding in the second half of Fiscal Year 2009, complete applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development National Office between March 1, 2009, and April 30, 2009. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, please see the November 20, 2008 Federal Register. Here's a link to read the Federal Register notice.

USDA said the program will create energy related jobs in rural America and encourage economic development, along with promoting resource conservation and diversifying markets for agricultural and forestry products, including agricultural waste materials. In addition to the announcement of program funds for this year, a notice is being published to invite comments on how to administer the program in future years. 

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