USDA's senior energy advisor explains BCAP after cliff deal

By Luke Geiver | January 03, 2013

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program may have been extended through 2013 with the passing of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, but the program’s usefulness in the coming year is still uncertain. Although the fiscal cliff package included a nine-month extension of the current Farm Bill, funding for several of the programs contained in the Energy Title was stripped out of the bill shortly before passage.

Todd Atkinson, senior energy advisor for the USDA Undersecretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service, said however, that BCAP’s continuation affirms USDA’s successful implementation of the program.

But Atkinson added, BCAP funding needed for new contracts is still an “unknown at this time.” For 2013, that could potentially mean BCAP funding will play a smaller role in the development of energy crop acres. “Transitioning BCAP to the appropriations cycle will be challenging to coordinate with crop cycles and planting seasons,” he said. And the BCAP project areas that have already received funding received the full amount for each areas individual contract periods.

In May last year, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a version of the Farm Bill that contained mandatory funding of $20 million per year for BCAP and an overall $800 million in funding over a five year period for all Energy Title programs.