Congress is scrutinizing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which, in its current structure, could eliminate thousands of woodworking jobs, as well as raise consumers’ costs for cabinets, furniture and other items that use composite panels. Currently, the BCAP offers subsidies to suppliers of wood chips to sell their products to biomass conversion facilities instead of panel manufacturers.

Members of the Composite Panel Assn. (CPA), Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. (BIFMA), American Home Furnishings Alliance, Biomass Power Assn.

and others, are calling for an immediate change to the BCAP eligible materials list. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which administers the program, will begin handing out $514 million in taxpayer subsidies this month.

“USDA needs to fix BCAP or Congress needs to stop it,” said Tom Julia, CPA president. “The 2008 Farm Bill made clear that ‘higher value’ wood should not be part of any subsidy, and Congress never intended that USDA should dole out millions of dollars for a program that will not expand the U.S. fuel supply, but instead will lead to the loss of American jobs,” he added.

“We’re getting an excellent response from members of Congress, who appreciate that the list of materials eligible for the BCAP subsidy must be changed to exclude those already being used for higher value purposes like making furniture, cabinets, flooring and other important consumer products,” Julia continued. “BCAP started out as a good idea, but is turning into a gross blunder by the federal government and a complete waste of taxpayer money that will put thousands of Americans out of work with no benefit to the environment,” he said.

In a separate release sent today, BIFMA states, “BCAP has been rushed though without any consideration of its unintended consequences, and these include environmental considerations as well as loss of jobs. As structured today, BCAP will serve to increase the U.S. contribution to global warming instead of mitigating it. Wood is a great natural resource. If existing industries that are using it responsibly suffer as a result of BCAP and manufacturing plants close, the ripple affect on the economy will be enormous. Consumers will have fewer choices, thousands of jobs will be threatened, and less environmentally friendly materials will be substituted.”

A new Web site has been formed in support of reforming the BCAP. Visit BCAPreform.org for information.

Click here for link to previous news item on BCAP
Click here for link to Karen Koenig's blog on BCAP

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