Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak announced on Friday that $14.5 million in funding will be made available for USDA bioenergy programs through the 2014 Farm Bill. Applications are now being accepted through USDA’s Rural Development (RD) from companies that want to offset costs related to converting fossil fuel systems to renewable biomass fuel systems. And the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $2.5 million in grants to promote national energy security through development of bio-based fuels, biopower and new bio-based products.

A new service called the Bioeconomy Tool Sheed will also be available to aid those starting a bio-energy business. Web-based tools and information are available on the production and conversion of biomass into products and fuel.

USDA plans to make up to $12 million in payments for eligible biorefineries through RD's Repowering Assistance Program, which was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Biorefineries in existence on or before June 18, 2008 are eligible for payments to replace fossil fuels used to produce heat or power with renewable biomass.

USDA is also seeking applications for NIFA's Sun Grants program that encourages bioenergy and biomass research collaboration between government agencies, land-grant colleges and universities, and the private sector.

The newest addition to the USDA Energy Web, the Tool Shed can help those interested in bio-energy business ventures by providing access to the data and information necessary to evaluate potential opportunities across the entire supply chain: from feedstock production, to bioenergy production, bioenergy use, and linkages between feedstock production, bioenergy production and use. The tool is designed to assist in evaluating the feasibility and opportunities for locating a new biorefinery. It provides the stakeholder access to information on demographics, land use, biomass, feedstock, economics, and financial management.

For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

Read the full press release from USDA.

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