January 12, 2011

Webinar set on Biomass Crop Assistance Program

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will host a meeting Jan. 20 for those who want to learn more about biomass.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has resumed a program that pays farmers to produce non-food crops to convert into biofuels and biomass-generated energy. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) offers financial assistance to those with agricultural and private forestland so they can establish and produce biomass feedstocks. The application period for this program is now open.

A free webinar set for 1:30-3:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 will provide biomass producers and others interested in biomass with more information about the program. The Illinois Biomass Working Group, the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University and the University of Illinois Extension are organizers for the event that will be multicast in locations throughout the state, including Carbondale.

Locally, you can participate in the webinar at the SIUC Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center at 150 E. Pleasant Hill Road in Carbondale.

The presentation will feature Don King, chief program specialist for the USDA Farm Service Agency in Illinois, and Tim Slating from the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of Illinois. They’ll discuss the program and how to apply as well as an overall strategy to organize applications targeting the critical project areas of the program. Ira Altman, assistant professor of agribusiness economics at SIUC, will be the moderator at the SIUC site.

After the webinar, there will be follow-up meetings in the region for those interested in joining in a BCAP Project Area application. The Illinois Biomass Working Group includes farmers, businesses, universities and public agencies working together to promote biomass energy in Illinois and group members will facilitate discussion between biomass buyers and sellers in conjunction with possible formation of a BCAP Project Area group. There will be more information about the subsequent meetings soon.

You can register to attend the webinar at http://go.illinois.edu/biomass. For more information, contact Fred Iutzi (fiutzi@wiu.edu) or Erin Orwig (er-Orwig@wiu.edu) at the WIU Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (800/526-9943) or Natalie Bosecker (natalieb@illinois.edu) at the University of Illinois Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (217/244-9273).