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ELPC Holds Washington Briefings on New Energy Crop Program

This week ELPC organized and held well-attended briefings in Washington D.C. to educate House and Senate staff on the environmental and energy benefits of sustainably-grown “energy crops.” ELPC, in partnership with National Farmers Union (NFU) and the 25x’25 Alliance, convened the briefings, which featured speakers from ELPC, National Wildlife Federation, the University of Illinois, and industry organizations.

Moderated by ELPC Staff Attorney and Policy Advocate Karen Bridges, the briefings focused on the federal Farm Bill’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or “BCAP.” Sustainable biomass and biofuel crops could become an important clean energy resource, but farmers want to be sure there’s a market for these crops before they plant them, and power producers want to be sure there’s a supply of these crops before they buy them. BCAP was intended to help break this “chicken and egg” dilemma by offsetting a portion of the costs of growing and harvesting new energy crops and other biomass feedstocks.

Congress passed BCAP in the 2008 Farm Bill, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is just starting to fully implement it. USDA work is off to a somewhat rocky start, and very little of the program’s resources are being directed to new, sustainably grown energy crops. Although a wide variety of views was presented, the speakers agreed that BCAP was a program worth “getting right,” and that it’s time for USDA to redirect resources to the production side of the program.

With this briefing and related activities, ELPC is seeking to persuade USDA to hard-wire strong environmental protections in the BCAP rules and prioritize the right energy crops for development. If grown and harvested correctly, BCAP can boost on-farm income, help rural communities, and improve environmental quality.

Click here to view presentations on BCAP from National Wildlife Federation, Anna Rath, Show Me Energy Cooperative and University of Illinois.

For more information on BCAP and other Farm Bill Energy Title programs, please click here .