State USDA Offices Can Now Award REAP Funding

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

In the first 5 years of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), grant awards tended to be concentrated in a few states. These states had invested in policies and programs which helped their farms and rural businesses develop their clean energy resources with help from REAP.

Solar for AgricultureFor the 2009 REAP program, the USDA has tried to address this problem by changing how it allocates award funds. Now, each individual state Rural Development office has been provided an allocation of funds for its state. This will speed up awards of some grants and all loan guarantees. USDA has allocated a total of $27.7 million (46% of overall funding) to the states. (more…)

BCAP Survey Results Show National Interest in Good Program Implementation

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

survey-pencilThe 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. (more…)

REAP Rural Restriction to Disappear in 2010

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

solar-greenhouse-energy300wBack in 2005, the USDA wrote the administrative rules for the program that is now the “Rural Energy for America Program” (REAP). The USDA rules only allowed the program’s grants and loan guarantees to be used for projects located in rural areas.

Legislative language in the 2008 Farm Bill specified eligible recipients as “agricultural producers and rural small businesses.” As not all “agricultural producers” are located in rural areas, the USDA rules excluded legitimate agricultural producers.

After hearing from members of Congress, ELPC, and non-rural agricultural producers from around the country, the USDA has now agreed to make the REAP program benefits available to all agricultural producers regardless of location. (Small businesses will still need to be located in rural areas). Unfortunately, they cannot implement this change until FY2010. (more…)

Energy Crop Program Funding for 2009 Announced

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Overview

Today, June 11, USDA issued a Notice of Funds for Availability (NOFA) for the Collection, Harvest, Storage and Transportation (CHST) portion of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).  You can read the official notice here. Funding for the remaining components of BCAP (annual and establishment payments) will be announced in the final rule at a later date.

This NOFA is being rolled out as USDA completes a set of 6 public hearings around the country on the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being conducted for BCAP.  BCAP advances sustainable energy crops — a global warming solution that provides new income opportunities for farmers.

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Key Energy Crop Program Rule Writing Begins

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

(June 3) In a series of public meetings and in a request for written comments, USDA is asking the public for its opinion on how to implement the new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP will help to make advanced, sustainable biofuels production a reality by providing incentive payments to farmers to help offset energy crop establishment, harvesting, and other related costs.  Comments on first part of the EIS process are due to USDA by close-of-business on June 12, and can be submitted here.

Using procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Department is conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS), and is proposing two different options for implementing BCAP: limited or broad implementation.

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ELPC and Allies Submit Comments on Proposed REAP Changes

Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

On October 15th, the Bush USDA issued a new, proposed permanent rule for grant programs in REAP that would likely take effect in 2010 and would make significant changes to the program.

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