Rivals trim soy oil’s lead among biomass-based diesel feedstocks

With the explosion in production of renewable diesel, yellow grease and corn oil are cutting into soybean oil's position as the dominant feedstock for biomass-based diesel fuel, said three agricultural economists.

USDA report looks at ways to grow biomass market

Expanding the market for biomass-based products, which include furniture, bioplastics, and biofuels, would create new sources of revenue for the agricultural sector, said a USDA report released on Thursday. It recommends a broad-ranging effort by the government to encourage greater production.

Enviva, a giant in wood pellets, shifts tree-sourcing policy

Enviva, the largest industrial wood-pellet manufacturer in the world, launched what it calls an “enhanced and expanded global sourcing policy” last week in partnership with Earthworm Foundation, a non-profit that helps businesses reform their supply chains. The announcement came a few weeks after the publication of a report by FERN, in collaboration with The Weather Channel, spotlighting the company’s environmental practices.

Harvesting American forests for the EU’s ‘green’ electricity plants

Wood-processing plants around the South are turning trees into pellets and then exporting them to be burned in electricity plants in the EU. It's part of the EU's initiative to generate "green" electricity, but scientists question whether burning trees is really carbon neutral, according to FERN's latest story with The Weather Channel.(No paywall)

An economic irony: Solar farm boom, biomass gloom

"More than trees have withered in California's sun. The state's biomass energy plants are folding in rapid succession, unable to compete with heavily subsidized solar farms, many of which have sprouted up amid the fields and orchards of the San Joaquin Valley," reports the Los Angeles Times.

USDA restarts cost-share aid to biomass farmers and processors

"Incentives will resume this summer for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in growing and harvesting biomass for renewable energy," said the USDA in announcing a "restart" of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

Biomass program thins national forest of dead, diseased trees

More than 200,000 tons of dead or diseased trees were removed from national forests this summer through a program that offsets the harvest and transport cost for delivering plant materials to biomass refineries, said USDA.

Bio-energy programs get $625 million in farm law funding

Congress included $625 million in guaranteed funding for bio-energy programs in the 2014 farm policy law, says Jonathan Coppess of U-Illinois at farmdoc daily.

Best case for energy crops in Southeast or on marginal land

Energy crops may be best suited for planting on marginal land or in Southeastern states when compared to likely earnings from corn and soybeans, the two most widely grown U.S. crops, say two researchers from the University of Illinois.

USDA to release Census of Agriculture on May 2

The Agriculture Department said it will release the full results of the Census of Agriculture on May 2, after more than a year of work.

EPA aims for biofuels rule by late spring or early summer

The government could issue an updated target for biofuel use by late spring or early summer, said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy at the North American Agricultural journalists meeting.