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Message: U.S. Assists Two Crop-for-aviation- fuel Projects

Farmers in four states in the U.S. West can qualify for a federal cost-sharing payment if they grow camelina, an oilseed, for conversion into jet fuel, the government said on Tuesday.

Camelina oilseed can be used as biofuel. Photo Credit:

The assistance would encourage large-scale production — up
to 51,000 acres (21,000 hectares) — of camelina for sale to
aviation biofuel makers AltAir Fuels LLC, of Seattle, and
Beaver Biodiesel LLC, of Portland, Oregon.

It would be the first time the Agriculture Department
subsidized an aviation bio-crop.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the announcement
coincided with the one-year anniversary of an initiative by the
U.S. Agriculture Department, Boeing Co (BA.N) and the Air
Transport Association, an airline trade group, to bring bio jet
fuels to market.

AltAir aims for a drop-in substitute for traditional jet
fuels with production beginning in late 2012 in Bakersfield,
California, and in 2014 at Tacoma, Washington.

USDA payments would be available on camelina grown on
50,000 acres in central California and an area of eastern
Washington state and western Montana.

“The market will be there on aviation,” said John Williams,
a spokesman for AltAir, which believes bio jet fuel will be

Beaver, which produces nearly 1 million gallons a year of
biodiesel, would use camelina from 1,000 acres near Albany,
Oregon, to produce an aviation fuel.

Fuel is the No. 1 cost for U.S. airlines, which burn 17.5
billion gallons of fuel a year, says the ATA.

Camelina-based fuels have been tested by the U.S. military
and on commercial aircraft. Two commercial craft used the fuel
to fly to the Paris Air Show last month.

Under a 2008 law, the USDA can pay up to 75 percent of the
cost of planting a biomass crop near a biomass processor and an
annual payment for producing the crop. Annual payments run up
to five years for grasses and 15 years for woody plants.

An annual crop, camelina needs little rainfall or
fertilizer and can be grown in rotation with wheat or on
marginal land. Its seeds are 40 percent oil, double the content
of soybeans.

Continue reading at REUTERS

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