Vilsack rolls out $8.7M for research 

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday announced $8.7 million in funding for research to develop and improve the availability of biofuels.

Vilsack made the announcement at the ethanol trade group Growth Energy’s Executive Leadership Conference in Phoenix. The funds come from the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) under the Agriculture Department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“USDA’s support for innovative bioenergy research and education supports rural economic development, reduces carbon pollution and helps decrease our dependence on foreign energy,” Vilsack said in a statement.

The program funds projects around feedstock development, biofuels and bio-based products development, and biofuels development analysis.

The funding announcement combines about two years of mandatory funding for BRDI under the 2014 farm bill, said NIFA spokeswoman Jennifer Martin. The funding would combine $5.7 million from NIFA and $3 million from the Energy Department.

The BRDI program took a big hit in the current farm bill. It is currently funded at about $3 million per year, down from nearly $40 million per year under the 2008 farm bill.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency also published a final rule for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program in today’s Federal Register. The program provides up to $25 million per year to help farmers grow and deliver biomass feedstocks.