AgEC says 2014 budget agreement highlights need for Farm Bill

By Agriculture Energy Coalition | January 15, 2014

The 2014 Consolidated Appropriations agreement to be considered by Congress today leaves Farm Bill energy programs with no discretionary funding for the year, highlighting the need for Congress to prioritize consideration of the 5-year Farm Bill, the Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) said today. The Omnibus provides $3.5 million in funds for the Rural Energy for America Program, but rescinds $40.7 million from the Biorefinery Assistance Program and another $8 million from the Bioenergy for Advanced Biofuels program.

Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the AgEC, said, “Today’s Omnibus Appropriations bill will create uncertainty for renewable energy and energy efficiency leaders across the country who have been working with private lenders and USDA to access credit for biorefinery and other important energy projects. The Farm Bill currently in conference should provide stable policy and mandatory funding for energy programs to help these projects create jobs and economic opportunities. Thousands of hardworking American agriculture and renewable energy producers need Congress to adopt a new 5-year Farm Bill now more than ever.”

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program partners with hundreds of farmers across the country to develop sustainable new biofuels and other products from non-food crops, providing farmers with additional farm income and producing next-generation energy sources. The program currently supports more than 1,100 American growers in 188 counties across 12 states, who are converting 53,000 underutilized acres to energy crops.

The Biorefinery Assistance Program also enables production of cutting-edge advanced biofuels by supporting next-generation biorefinery development. The program is assisting U.S. companies secure more than $450 million in private capital for innovative advanced biofuel projects. The program has leveraged nearly $10 of private capital for every dollar of federal investment.

The Renewable Energy for America Program supports every type of renewable energy technology, including wind, solar, biomass, biogas and hydroelectric power in all 50 states. Since 2008, the program has supported an additional 6,600 U.S. projects, employing 15,000 people and generating or saving more than 7.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to power 680,000 U.S. homes annually. The program leverages private investment, as it requires at least a $3 match for each $1 of federal funds.

The AgEC is a broad membership-based consortium of organizations and companies representing a broad spectrum of clean, renewable energy, energy efficiency and bioproducts stakeholders. It includes members focused on feedstock production and conversion technologies, rural economic development and diversification, biofuels, products and power, and renewable electricity production, environmental quality, and others. Coalition members are committed to seeing a strong bi-partisan energy title in the 2012 farm bill that builds on the tremendous clean energy accomplishments USDA has already realized and provides resources to USDA at a level that enables them to continue and expand this important mission.