The USDA has a long history of supporting biomass initiatives, usually at the community, commercial or industrial level. The USDA, and particularly the Forest Service, has become more involved in residential biomass in recent years, partly as a result of collaborative work with the Alliance for Green Heat. In 2011, the Forest Service took part and helped to fund an AGH report, Transforming Wood Heat in America. And in 2013, AGH was part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the USDA and four industry and non-profit groups to promote biomass utilization. The Forest Service was also a partner in the Wood Stove Decathlon, a technology competition on the National Mall.And, the Forest Service began funding an innovative wood stove change out program in Seeley Lake, Montana.
Community Wood Energy Program (CWEP).
The Community Wood Energy Program (CWEP) was authorized under section 9013 of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill), but has not been funded often. CWEP is a competitive grant program to assist local governments with the capital cost of installing high-efficiency biomass-fuelled heating systems.
Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).
The Farm Service Agency, a subsidiary of the USDA oversees a program where biomass conversion facilities are eligible for financial assistance in collecting, harvesting, storing and transporting crops for the conversion to biofuels and bioenergy. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program enables biomass producers to receive compensation until crops are established and subsidizes the cost of establishing and planting eligible biomass crops by matching these costs. Qualified conversion facilities include those that effectively convert crops into heat, power and advanced biofuels.
Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC).
The USDA Forest Service’s Wood Education and Resource Center is located in Princeton, WV. The WERC program aims to improve information sharing and capability of the forest products industry’s workforce and leaders. The facilities include offices, a rough mill and training facilities, which are utilized to promote the sustainable usage of biomass for energy.