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USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program

Sustainable commercial production of willow biomass crops in Northern New York State is being catalyzed by the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This program is helping landowners and other stakeholders to overcome the challenges of growing a new dedicated energy crop. The broad goals of BCAP are to improve domestic energy security, reduce atmospheric carbon pollution and spur rural economic development by providing assistance to land owners who establish and produce new biomass feedstocks such as shrub willow. Spurring commercial production also creates innovations and increases awareness and adoption of the new crop. There are currently over 1100 acres of willow crops enrolled in the BCAP program in New York State. These willow production areas are spread across Jefferson, Lewis, and Oneida counties, and are situated around two biopower facilities owned by ReEnergy Holdings LLC, which will be the end-user of the willow biomass produced under the BCAP program. The BCAP program has successfully paired biomass producers with an end-user in ReEnergy who has contracted to purchase all willow produced over the next 11 years, creating long term market stability. The BCAP program also assists landowners by providing partial establishment grants to cover some of the costs of planting, as well as annual acreage incentive payments based on soil conservation rates which helps balance the intermittent cash flows of the multi-year harvest cycle. SUNY-ESF, with support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) and the Northeast Woody/Warm-season Biomass Consortium (NEWBio), is providing a range of extension services to assist current and potential growers produce this new crop. The current enrollment period for BCAP funding to establish willow biomass crops in New York State has expired, but more funding opportunities may become available again in the near future. If you would like be notified if these opportunities become available again please check back to this website regularly, or contact us at SUNY-ESF via phone (315 470-6775) or email (willow@esf.edu).

Spotlight

Background

Shrub willow is a short rotation woody crop that produces large amounts of hardwood biomass (4-5 dry tons/acre/year). Willow is planted once and harvested up to seven times on a three or four year rotation cycle with limited maintenance between harvests once the crop is established. Research on shrub willow has been ongoing at SUNY ESF since 1986. and is now being furthered by commercial operations and continued testing and development in collaboration with numerous universities and industry partners. Willow can be grown on idle or marginal lands and create numerous environmental benefits while stimulating rural economies and providing a local source of renewable energy and jobs in the energy sector.   

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SUNY-ESF
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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