USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Jonathan Coppess has announced that biomass conversion facilities can begin signing up to participate in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which will help increase production of renewable energy.
The program, authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, provides financial assistance to producers who deliver eligible material to biomass conversion facilities and FSA will provide financial assistance to collect, harvest, store and transport eligible materials.
“This program will benefit producers, the developing biomass industry, the general public and the environment as we continue working to expand production and availability of renewable energy,” said Coppess. “Owners of eligible material can receive financial assistance for delivering qualified biomass to conversion facilities that use biomass for heat, power, bio-based products or advanced biofuels.”
Biomass conversion facilities and material owners or producers should contact their FSA state offices or visit www.fsa.usda.gov for more information. FSA will begin accepting applications from biomass facilities interested in participating in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).
Once an agreement is signed between FSA and a facility and funding through the program is provided, the facilities can begin accepting materials. Producers who sell these materials can apply for matching payments under the collection, harvest, storage and transportation (CHST) component of BCAP.
The matching CHST payments are paid at a rate of $1 for $1 per dry-ton equivalent received from a qualified biomass conversion facility, not to exceed $45 per dry-ton equivalent. A biomass owner is eligible to receive payments for two years. The purpose of the matching payments is to assist biomass producers with the CHST cost of delivering biomass to a qualified biomass conversion facility.
For example, if a qualified biomass conversion facility pays a producer $30 per dry ton for biomass, the material owner or producer would be eligible for a matching payment of $30 per dry ton from FSA. This payment will help offset the costs of CHST.
Biomass conversion facilities may become “qualified” by submitting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the FSA state offices. The MOU generally provides the requirements for becoming a qualified biomass conversion facility. Once a facility becomes qualified, eligible material owners or producers who deliver biomass to that facility may be eligible to receive CHST payments.
Eligible material owners or producers, who market eligible material to a qualified biomass conversion facility, may apply for the matching CHST payment at their FSA county office. An application must be submitted before the eligible material is sold and delivered to a qualified biomass conversion facility. After the product is delivered, a producer must provide FSA with documentation of product quantity, quality and payment rate.
County offices will validate payment requests with information in the county office and information provided under the terms of MOUs with the qualified biomass conversion facilities. CHST payments will not be authorized until after an appropriate environmental analysis has been conducted.
Also, there are two changes producers will see with the Treasury Implementation Project that started Aug. 3.
The first will be that all payments the USDA Farm Service Agency makes by direct deposit will be transmitted by Kansas City to Treasury. This is required for FSA to be compliant with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). All federal payments will be processed through the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), so that any delinquent federal debt can be offset.
This new process will result in a delay of direct deposit payments to customers by one business day. All payments will be matched against debt referred to Treasury, including payments made by Treasury check. Payments will be subject to TOP offset if there is a delinquent federal debt in TOP database. If the TOP database finds a match for taxpayer identification number (TIN) and name, the payment will be offset for the delinquent debt. Treasury will notify the payment recipient of any offsets taken for debts due other agencies. FSA will not receive notification of the offset.
If there are questions about a TOP offset, the payee may call the TOP Call Center at 1-800-304-3107 to obtain the contact information for the offsetting agency. The TOP Call Center only has access to provide the name of the offsetting agency and their contact information. The payee will need to call the offsetting agency to determine the origination of the debt.
The other change will be the description on Bank Statements of Direct Deposit Payees. Currently, the description on the payee’s bank statement reads, “USDA-FSAKCMOCDSP.” The description on the bank statement will read, “FSA TREAS 310” for all payments that are disbursed by Treasury.