This cooperative agreement supports a larger research plan led by USDA through its five Regional Biomass Research Centers, which will help accelerate the development of a commercial advanced biofuels industry across the U.S. Just as important, the plan sets out to include as many U.S. rural areas as possible to maximize the economic benefits of biofuel production across the country. The centers will provide the critical mass needed to develop high-performance teams that will guide biomass research to address needs in both the public and private sector, including commercial aviation, military transportation, and other activities.

The Secretary also discussed a biofuels report prepared by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) that says replacing more petroleum with cost-competitive domestic biofuels reduces crude oil imports, thereby lowering prices for energy and benefiting the U.S. economy. The report also includes these findings:

  • The biofuels industry becomes more productive as cost-reducing technology is applied, which results in higher wages for workers.
  • Gains in Gross Domestic Product and real income are driven largely from the contribution from technological progress in biofuels, which increases the productivity of the economy.
  • Next-generation biofuels are considered to be a decreasing cost industry. This means that the cost of producing ethanol will decline as output increases.

The entire ERS report is available online.

Information about the USDA agreement with the FAA is available on its website. Biomass conversion facilities, eligible material owners and producers interested in the BCAP program should contact their FSA state offices or go online for more information. Complete information about USDA's renewable energy programs is available through its energy matrix. Information about state contacts for USDA energy programs is available as an excel document online, too.