The giant miscanthus is growing in popularity as use for biomass to create energy for heating, power, biofuels and bio-based products. The crop had been grown in Europe for some time already as a biofuel crop and the United States is just getting on board. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recently named portions of Missouri and Kansas as areas for biofuel crops, has now added four additional areas for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) in: Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
According to Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agriculture Secretary, the program will create 4,000 jobs and could earn $50 million annually for each project. Yields for biomass from giant miscanthus are expected to range between 10 and 12 tons of dry matter per acre and can be as high as 15 tons per acre.. The BCAP provides financial incentives to eligible agriculture producers for the dedicated production of these energy crops. Project areas must have specific boundaries that are approved by the government. The four approved areas thus far are as follows:
- 5,588 acres in Clay, Craighead, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, and Randolph counties, Arkansas
- 3,000 acres in Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, Monroe and Randolph counties, Missouri
- 5,250 acres in Barry, Christian, Dade, Jasper, Lawrence, Newton, and Stone counties, Missouri
- 5,344 acres in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties, Ohio and Crawford, Erie, and Mercer counties, Pennsylvania
Aside from creating jobs and biofuel, these facilities might also help create a green hub leading to other green industries, including green industrial parks. Crop producers selected for the BCAP are eligible for up to 75 percent reimbursement of the cost for establishing this crop and receive up to five years of annual payments for herbaceous crops (annual or perennial) or up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops (annual or perennial).
“Renewable, home-grown, clean energy from American producers is vital to our country’s energy future because it reduces our reliance on foreign oil and creates good-paying production jobs that cannot be exported,” said Vilsack in a statement. “Today’s announcement will make a significant contribution to rural America and create nearly 4,000 jobs, demonstrating the great economic potential the production of renewable energy holds for our rural communities.”