BCAP Survey Results Show National Interest in Good Program Implementation
The results of ELPC’s survey on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) are now available. A total of 96 responses were tallied, with valuable input coming in from all over the country, from Alabama to California and Minnesota to New York. The affiliations of the respondents were equally as diverse: Farm owners, academics, venture capitalists, utilities and many others all took the time to give us their thoughts on the best way to implement BCAP.
Almost 60 percent of people taking the survey preferred the that USDA implement the program on a broad basis rather than the more limited implementation option described in the scenarios USDA created for the purposes of performing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Many comments left by those supporting broad implementation were similar to the specific comments of one respondent, who said, “Farmers need a variety of options because conditions are so different from state to state, region to region. The program needs to try a variety of tactics to see what works and what is less successful.”
Many of the survey questions results were fairly balanced, but overwhelming consensus emerged on one particular question. When asked to rank the importance of the various selection criteria included in the law that created BCAP, 98.9% of the people who took our survey rated soil, water and related resources as either “very important” or “important,” with 91.1% classifying it as “very important.” No other question response came even close to that level of agreement amoung participants.
You can see the results of the closed-ended questions here, but the open-ended questions also yielded some very interesting results.
- 23 people thought that reclaimed mineland or other reclaimed land should be included
- 21 people opposed including mature forests, wetlands or lands that were not previously used for agriculture
- 10 people supported the inclusion of marginal lands, non-tillable lands and roadsides
Sixty-nine people responded to our question about what types of conservation considerations should be included in forest stewardship and conservation plans that are required for land enrolled in BCAP:
- 29 favored inclusion of habitat conservation and management or avoiding harvesting during nesting and brooding seasons
- 17 listed water quality
- 13 mentioned nutrient management
- 13 listed erosion control and soil conservation
When asked how USDA could use existing programs and infrastructure to implement BCAP, 26 people responded:
- 12 favored modification and use of existing programs such as EQIP
- 10 listed use of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff and infrastructure with appropriate additional training and personnel
Finally, we asked people to provide any other general comments. The 36 people responding to this question provided a variety of input. While there was no theme voiced by a majority, the 3 most common responses were:
- 6 people said that the life cycle greenhouse gas footprint of biofuels should be considered in implementation of the program
- 5 are opposed to the BCAP program or feel priority for renewable energy development should focus on wind and solar energy sources
- 4 expressed support for finding alternative sources of biomass for energy, such as algea and switchgrass
ELPC will continue to solicit input and use input from others to inform our future comments and advocacy to USDA with the goal in mind of timely and efficient BCAP implementation that works for both farmers and bioenergy producers while protecting natural resources.
Thanks to all who took the time to send us your thoughts on this important program.