Omaha, NE, Sep 12, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the Department is making payments to support the production of advanced biofuel. USDA is making nearly $15.5 million in payments to 188 producers through the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O'Brien made the announcement on Vilsack's behalf in Omaha, Nebraska, at the National Advanced Biofuels Conference. The United States Department of Agriculture remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
"Producing advanced biofuels is a major component of the drive to take control of America's energy future by developing domestic, renewable energy sources," O'Brien said. "These payments represent the Obama Administration's commitment to support an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy."
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, "USDA Rural Development's ongoing investments in Maine's four wood pellet manufacturing companies is important and helps to sustain the growth of Maine's vital biofuel industry, supports jobs and replaces use of fossil fuels with clean renewable biomass energy in many of Maine's homes, businesses, and non-profit institutions."
The funding is being provided through USDA's Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Under this program, payments are made to eligible producers based on the amount of advanced biofuels produced from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Examples of eligible feedstocks include but are not limited to: crop residue; animal, food and yard waste; vegetable oil; and animal fat.
All four of Maine's pellet companies have received payments for a total of $42,966 invested in Maine's biofuel industry:
• Maine Woods Pellet Company, LLC, in Athens, has received a payment of $24,127 to produce wood pellets.
• Geneva Wood Fuels, LLC, in Strong, has received a payment in the amount of $13,374 to produce wood pellets.
• Corinth Wood Pellets, LLC, has received a payment of $3,081 to produce wood pellets.
• Northeast Pellets, LLC, in Ashland, has received a payment in the amount of $2,384 to produce wood pellets.
O'Brien noted that today's announcement serves as another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America and a reminder of the need for Congress to get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
"Job seekers in rural America need new and expanded investments in renewable energy, biofuel and bio-based product manufacturing – all of which can help create jobs in rural areas," said O'Brien.
Through the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program and other USDA programs, the Department is working to support the research, investment and infrastructure necessary to build a strong biofuels industry that creates jobs and broadens the range of feedstocks used to produce renewable fuel. More than 290 producers in 47 states and territories have received $211 million in payments since the program's inception. It has supported the production of more than 3 billion gallons of advanced biofuel and the equivalent of more than 36 billion kilowatt hours of electric energy.
View the list of producers receiving payments of more than $500.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than
$828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 62 employees working to deliver the agency's Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. USDA Rural Development invested a total of $402.5 million in Maine communities last Fiscal Year. 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/me.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).