Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer has announced that applications are being accepted for loan guarantees under the Biorefinery Assistance Program (Section 9003), authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, ("the farm bill").
The Biorefinery Assistance Program is designed to promote the development of new and emerging technologies for the production of advanced biofuels.
The Biorefinery Assistance Program provides loan guarantees for the development, construction and retrofitting of viable commercial-scale biorefineries producing advanced biofuels. The program provides $75 million in Fiscal Year 2009 and $245 million in Fiscal Year 2010 to provide loan guarantees not to exceed $250 million per project.
Preference will be given to projects where first-of-a-kind technology will be deployed on a commercial scale. Advanced biofuels are defined as fuels that do not rely on corn kernel starch as the feedstock.
For example, research has shown that cellulosic ethanol production — a key next generation biofuel — may be produced from switch grass, corn stover, forest waste, fast-growing trees, woodchips, canola, algae and other plant material rather than from the edible part of crops such as corn. These energy crops require further research and development but they represent a key long-term component to a sustainable biofuels industry.
To be considered for funding in the first half of Fiscal Year 2009, applications must be completed and submitted no later than Dec. 31, 2008 to the USDA Rural Development National Office, Energy Branch, Attention: Biorefinery Assistance Program, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, STOP 3225, Washington, D.C., 20250-3225.
To be considered for funding in the second half of Fiscal Year 2009, complete applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development National Office between March 1, 2009, and April 30, 2009. For further details about eligibility rules and application procedures, please see the Nov. 20, 2008 Federal Register.
The program will create energy related jobs in rural America and encourage economic development, along with promoting resource conservation and diversifying markets for agricultural and forestry products, including agricultural waste materials.
In addition to the announcement of program funds for this year, a notice is being published to invite comments on how to administer the program in future years.
USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development has invested more than $111 billion since 2001 for equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.
More than 2 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments.
Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's Web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov .