U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman, along with Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-1) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will expand the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Area in northeast Arkansas. This project, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, sets aside nearly 8,000 acres to grow crops that will be processed into renewable energy.
The initial BCAP Project Area included 5,558 acres of land in Craighead, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, Missississippi, Poinsett, and Randolph counties. The creation of the BCAP Project Area 2 will expand this project, targeting enrollment of nearly 8,000 acres in eight Arkansas counties. MFA Oil Biomass LLC and Aloterra Energy LLC will sponsor the project to promote the cultivation of giant miscanthus, a sterile hybrid warm-season grass that can be converted into fuel pellets, in farm heating, and bio-based packaging. According to the USDA, this project will create 750 jobs.
"We are seeing some very positive news coming out of this program, and I'm excited about its expansion. In the end, I think we will see just how powerful the potential in our fields can be when it comes to energy security and economic development in the Delta," Pryor said.
"Arkansas is a natural fit for extension of this program given our rich farmland and hardworking agriculture producers," Boozman said. "Expansion of this project continues to help address our increasing energy needs and allows us to diversify our energy supply."
"I am pleased that the USDA is expanding BCAP acres in the First District, as the program has already realized tremendous success on Arkansas farms. The additional investment will be a huge boost to our rural economy and I look forward to sharing the Arkansas success story in the House Agriculture Committee as we work to reauthorize BCAP in the 2012 Farm Bill," Crawford said.