WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ohio agriculture producers in Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga, and Trumbull Counties can apply to participate in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) through September 16, a new deadline recently announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) encouraged eligible farmers to apply for federal funding through the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA) to grow giant miscanthus, a type of grass that can be converted into biofuels.

“The Biomass Crop Assistance Program will help bring new jobs to Northeast Ohio while supporting production of a home-grown, clean energy source. I encourage interested farmers to contact their local FSA office before the September 16 deadline,” Brown said. “This investment will create jobs, support our agricultural heritage, and reduce our dangerous and unsustainable dependence on foreign oil. From offshore wind energy in Lake Erie, solar energy production in Northwest Ohio, and now biomass growth in Northeast Ohio, it’s clear that our state is leading the way in clean energy development.”
In June, Brown announced a $5.7 million award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support a BCAP project in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which will create up to 1,210 new jobs. BCAP, a new program authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to farmers to establish, produce, and, deliver biomass. According to Aloterra Energy, LLC—the sponsor of the project—farmers will enter into a contract with Aloterra to plant the miscanthus; Aloterra will buy the miscanthus, convert it, and get it to market. The farmer will have three streams of income: (1) tonnage payments, (2) carbon credits, and (3) profit sharing from the conversion facility. Farmers will also earn BCAP rent payments on the acres planted, and BCAP will pay $45 per ton harvested for two years.
The BCAP spans across 5,334 acres in Ohio and Pennsylvania. A conversion facility, located in Conneaut and owned by Aloterra, will convert the crop into electricity. A news conference to announce the new deadline, which will be attended by a Brown staff representative, will be held at the Conneaut conversion facility today at 1:30 P.M.

Sign-up for those interested in BCAP began June 20, 2011 and ends September 16, 2011. If interested, producers should contact their local FSA office. For more information about BCAP, click here.