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U.S. Farm Bill to Spur Development of Biomass, Bioenergy

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Passage of the U.S. Farm Bill will positively impact the biomass industry and help to spur on additional development of renewable energy, according to several leading biomass companies and organizations that praised the long-awaited bill. The farm bill, which passed in the U.S. Senate 68 to 32, provides nearly $900 million in dedicated funding for some of the nation's most critical energy and job-creation programs, including Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), and the Community Wood Energy Program (CWEP).
The International Biomass Conference & Expo taking place March 24-26 in Orlando, Fla., USA, will bring together six leaders representing different bioenergy associations to discuss the Farm Bill's impact on the biomass industry. 
One of these leaders, Jennifer Hedrick, executive director of Paper and Fiber Research Institute (PFI), Norway, said that "biomass thermal energy is a growing segment of our nation's energy portfolio, providing a clean, reliable, and efficient alternative to fossil fuels, while fostering job development, particularly in rural areas. The mandatory funding provided by Congress signifies its commitment to this industry and that it is listening to industry advocates on how best to facilitate its growth."
According to Joseph Seymour, executive director of the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) at N.C. State University in Raleigh, N.C., "the Farm Bill's Energy Title is one of the few tools available providing parity for biomass heating fuels and technologies outside of comprehensive tax reform. We look forward to working with USDA in the year ahead to ensure that these programs are implemented efficiently and that they recognize the role of sustainable biomass in supporting our nation's farmers, forest owners, and rural communities."
The Biomass Power Association President and CEO Bob Cleaves released the following statement in response to the Congressional passage of the 2014 Farm Bill and Energy Title: "The Senate's broad, bipartisan vote in favor of biomass is gratifying to our members and the more than 15,000 men and women who work in our facilities and rural communities across the Nation."
Specifically, the Agriculture Act of 2014 funds biomass initiatives for the next five years through the following:
  • Bio-based Markets—$3 million per year 
  • Biomass Research and Development—$3 million per year 
  • Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Bio-based Product Manufacturing Assistance Program—$100 million in 2014, $50 million in 2015-16 
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program—$25 million per year 
  • Bioenergy for Advanced Biofuels—$15 million per year.
"Due to the recent signing of the Agriculture Act of 2014, policy and the future state of the biomass industry is currently one of the most popular topics being discussed," said Tim Portz, VP of content and executive editor at BBI International. "The general session panel at the International Biomass Conference & Expo will allow attendees to hear firsthand from association leaders on how the bill will impact business taking place in the biomass industry." 


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