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During the equity drive, producers who purchased shares in the cooperative received tax credits from the state of Missouri. In August 2009, Show Me Energy also was the first biomass producer to qualify for the USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which provides financial assistance to producers who deliver eligible biomass to designated biomass conversion facilities to produce heat, power, bio-based products or biofuels.
BCAP-qualified producers are eligible to receive up to 75% of the cost of establishing and planting biomass crops within a BCAP project area. The USDA provides annual payments to compensate for lost opportunity costs until these crops are established and provides financial assistance for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of biomass crops by matching the amounts paid to producers by the biomass conversion facility, up to $45/dry ton.
While BCAP has had some growing pains, it has taken a commonsense approach of involving farmers from its inception, says Steve Flick, president of Show Me Energy’s board of directors. “Farmers are the foundation to drive [the new biomass energy] technology — not technology driving farmers.
“BCAP is going to be changing the [agricultural] landscape,” Flick says, suggesting that more farmers will put land, including marginal land, into dedicated energy crops. To qualify for BCAP, farmers must have a conservation plan approved by the NRCS. Show Me Energy’s members leave about 30% of corn stover residue on their fields and harvest native grasses in late fall after a killing frost, leaving unharvested strips near waterways.