Pro Farmer Editors
USDA says it has met the 30-day deadline to help produce more energy from homegrown, renewable sources that was set by President Barack Obama in May. USDA listed the following actions they have taken on the biofuels front:
- Loan Guarantees for Biorefineries. USDA is currently reviewing a $25 million loan guarantee application to retrofit a biodiesel refinery to produce second-generation biofuels. The funding of this venture will be the second such guarantee to be funded under the 2008 Farm Bill. In January, USDA awarded an $80 million loan guarantee for the production of cellulosic ethanol. A second round of applications received as part of an April 30, 2009 solicitation for applications is currently under review. These involve second- and third-generation biofuel technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, and methane gas and electricity. Awards for the second round are projected for Sept. 15, 2009
- Assistance for Biorefineries Replacing Fossil Fuels. USDA will provide up to $20 million to offer financial assistance to biorefineries to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or operate biorefineries with renewable biomass.
- Encourage Production of Next-Generation Biofuels. USDA will provide $30 million to provide payments to eligible agricultural producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels.
- Rural Energy for America Program. USDA is now accepting applications for feasibility studies, loan guarantees, and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements as well as for applications to conduct energy audits on behalf of agriculture producers and rural small businesses. Funds will be used to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses by conducting energy audits and providing recommendations and information on renewable energy development assistance and improving energy efficiency. These projects - energy audits and renewable energy systems development/energy efficiency improvements assistance - are designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs.
- Biomass Crop Assistance Program. USDA is launching a program that will provide compensation for the collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of biomass intended to meet the country's energy needs in a more sustainable manner. The program will provide financial assistance for delivery of eligible biomass material to conversion facilities that use biomass for heat, power, bio-based products or biofuels. USDA, through the Farm Service Agency, will provide matching payments for collecting, harvesting, storing and transporting eligible materials at a rate of one dollar for each dollar per dry ton paid by a qualified biomass conversion facility for the biomass. The matching payments will not exceed $45 per ton and material providers will be eligible for up to two years of payments.