The Farm Bill’s Biorefinery Assistance Program

The 2002 Farm Bill included an unfunded program to provide grants for the construction of new biorefineries. Section 9003 of the 2008 Farm Bill now includes a broader biorefinery development program, with mandatory funding for both grants and loan guarantees.


The program is for advanced biofuel production such as cellulosic ethanol or butanol. Corn starch ethanol is not eligible for assistance under this program. A wide variety of private companies, public entities and cooperative institutions qualify for funding.

NREL cellulosic ethanol research and development
National Renewable Energy Lab’s cellulosic ethanol research


The Biorefinery Assistance program includes funding for:

  •  Grants for demonstration scale plants up to 30% of costs;
  •  Loan guarantees for commercial scale plants (up to $250 million per plant).

  The 2008 Farm Bill provided $75 million mandatory funding in 2009 and $245 million in 2010, with an additional $600 million authorized discretionary funding over four years 2009-2012.

Program Timeline 

USDA issued a notice of funds availability for this program in late 2008, and is continuing to develop final rules to implement the program.  Visit our Rulemaking page for USDA’s latest implementation actions for this program.