Biomass Subsidies Could Impact Mulch And Pine Bark Prices

A seemly innocuous program that came out of the 2008 Farm Bill could end up having major consequences on nursery production and retail by substantially increasing the price of mulch and pine bark – and in some cases causing suppliers to withhold it entirely.

The legislative team at the American Nursery & Landscape Association is already mobilizing with the Society of American Florists and the Mulch & Soil Council to stay on top of the situation and potentially lobby for action if needed.

At issue is the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which had the original intent of creating incentives for new clean energy biomass fuel sources like miscanthus, switchgrass and bamboo, among other crops.

However, the program has mutated based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s interpretation to include subsidies for wood fiber products, including pine bark and the bark used to make mulch products.

“This is one of those rare issues that has an effect over the spectrum of the vertically integrated green industry,” says Corey Connors, director of legislative relations at ANLA. “The effect this will have on the industry is gigantic. A $45 subsidy per ton of woody biomass means for pine bark double or tripling the price that’s used for container production. On the mulch side it could also double or triple the price.”

Nurseries in Alabama have already told ANLA representatives that pine bark suppliers stopped selling to them completely in the hopes of selling the product at a far more lucrative price to biomass industry. Pine bark makes up a substantial amount of the substrate used to grow nursery stock.

Nurseries and retail garden centers aren’t the only industries affected by the new subsidies, either. The paper and building materials industries will also feel the bite and are mounting defenses against the subsidies.

In response, the USDA has proposed new rules that would allow the subsidy only on wood products that are essentially waste and have no value to other industries. Connors, however, fears the USDA lacks enforcement power to regulate the rules, which are already relatively vague and likely won’t be further defined. A more effective fix may have to come through new legislation, he adds.

In the meantime, the USDA is accepting comments on the new rules posted in the Federal Register through April 9.

“If this goes into effect (30 days after April 9), there will be an immediate disruption of the market,” Connors says, based on the discussions he’s had. “People could instantaneously stop selling because the value of these materials will be radically disturbed in a heavily subsidized market.”

ANLA is in the process of creating sample letters that will be posted in the next day or two at www.anla.org that industry members can send to USDA to be included in the comment period. ANLA also will be mobilizing with SAF and the Mulch & Soil Council to prepare discussions with key Congressional leaders and the appropriate committee members to insure the green industry’s voice is heard on the issue.

“Every once in a while this type of issue crops up, and that’s why it’s important to have a national association supporting the industry that has the resources to take on issues like this,” says Bob Dolibois, ANLA executive vice president.

Click here to read the USDA rules for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program in the Federal Register.

Keep checking GreenhouseGrower.com and www.anla.org for updates on this issue.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Biomass Subsidies Could Impact Mulch And Pine Bark Prices

  1. We have a biomass boiler and burn woodchips. We refuse to take pine chips and pine bark. Its heat value is low in comparsion to hardwood chips. The coating of pitch residue interferes with the heat transfer to the water tubes and would need to be mechanically and chemically removed. I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill and adversely affecting a needed subsidy to make alternative green fuels feasible

  2. We have a biomass boiler and burn woodchips. We refuse to take pine chips and pine bark. Its heat value is low in comparsion to hardwood chips. The coating of pitch residue interferes with the heat transfer to the water tubes and would need to be mechanically and chemically removed. I think you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill and adversely affecting a needed subsidy to make alternative green fuels feasible

Latest Stories
Bee on Sunflowers

August 30, 2016

Bee Vectoring Technologies Names New President And CEO

Ashish Malik, a former Vice President of Global Marketing at Bayer CropScience, will focus on marketing Bee Vectoring Technologies’ patented proprietary tray dispenser system that uses bees to delivery organic compounds directly to crops.

Read More
Griffin Onliant Logo

August 30, 2016

Griffin Launches New Digital Greenhouse Ordering System

Onliant, which replaces Griffin’s previous e-commerce sites, provides growers and retailers with a new platform to source plants, hard goods, equipment, and retail inputs.

Read More
Phlox 'Pink Profusion' (Green Leaf Plants)

August 30, 2016

13 Cool Season Plants To Kick Off The Spring Season

These new cultivar introductions for 2016 are spring bloomers that can take the cold for early-season sales.

Read More
America In Bloom Project

August 29, 2016

Your Chance To Help America In Bloom As It Celebrates I…

America In Bloom is launching a fundraising campaign to help the group continue its mission of creating beautiful and vibrant communities across the country.

Read More

August 29, 2016

Does Point-Of-Sale (POS) Make A Difference for Plant Re…

When Greenhouse Grower RETAILING asked plant retailers about their plant pricing techniques, we also asked if they use POS or not. We decided to take a close look at where these two groups differ:

Read More
Griffin Logo

August 29, 2016

What You Should Do At The Griffin Expos, Massachusetts …

The first of the fall Griffin Expos takes place this week in West Springfield, MA, August 31 and September 1, 2016. A Lancaster, PA, Expo will take place next month. If you’re heading to this distributor show, make sure you check out these highlights: White Elephant Sale Each year, Griffin clears out its branch warehouses by holding a sale of its closeout and overstock items. The discounts are deep, and the competition for the items are fierce. “Once items are gone, they’re gone. So, that first hour or so is kind of like ‘the running of the brides’ at Filene’s,” says Tracey Gorrell, Marketing Communications Lead at Griffin. On-Site Experts Griffin offers opportunities to connect face-to-face with industry experts and get answers, tips, and advice catered to your unique needs and interests: The GGSPro team is available to field your questions; and 150 manufacturers, breeders, and young-plant producers can discuss […]

Read More

August 29, 2016

Fire Damages Swanson Nursery

Fire crews were called to Seattle-based Swanson’s Nursery in the middle of the night on August 22, the Ballard News Tribune reported. The fire, likely started by an “electrical issue,” destroyed bathrooms and a seminar room, Retail Manager Eric Nordstrom told the news outlet. Smoke damage was more extensive, however. Swanson’s President, Brian Damron says the fire also reached a storage area and utility room. A fire department spokesman says the fire broke through the greenhouse walls, and that part of a wooden wall had to be removed so the crew could reach the flames. The store’s café resides next to the damaged area, and is temporarily closed. It’s an important part of Swanson’s off season revenue strategy. The store is working with a timeline of repairs with its insurance company so it can determine when the cafe can reopen, the news outlet reports. The fire was out relatively quickly once […]

Read More
North Creek Nurseries Feature Image

August 29, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Unites Horticulture With Sustaina…

The team at North Creek Nurseries, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year, leads the way in implementing ecologically responsible practices that will sustain the future of growing.

Read More

August 28, 2016

BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship Goes To …

Schaller, a senior at the University of Arizona in the Plant Sciences Department, is interested in ornamental and floriculture crop breeding and crop physiology.

Read More
Next Generation

August 27, 2016

Australia Launches Initiative To Ignite A New Generatio…

Hort Innovation Chief Executive John Lloyd says the goal is to identify and build future industry leaders at all stages of their career through investment in a host of new initiatives.

Read More
Penn State University Trial Day

August 26, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Broaden Their Horizons

Allan Armitage says you can learn new ideas to help your business when you get out to visit plant trials and other growers.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
GrowSpan Light Deprivation Greenhouse

August 25, 2016

New Light Deprivation Greenhouses Help With Light Manag…

The GrowSpan light deprivation greenhouse from Growers Supply is outfitted with a blackout system that provides growers with control over the light cycle.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albe…

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
To offer consumers an attractive crop, Local Appetite uses high tunnels to grow cherry tomatoes

August 24, 2016

New Food Safety Compliance Resource Available For Green…

The FSMA Wizard from Registrar Corp makes it easy for food producers, including greenhouse vegetable growers, to determine their possible requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Read More
Cannabis Structure

August 23, 2016

5 Factors To Consider In Your Cannabis Structure

Along with the size and specs of your greenhouse, it's also important to focus on ventilation, light deprivation, benching, irrigation, and odor control.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]