Draft 2018 Farm Bill reauthorizes Energy Title programs

By Erin Voegele | April 12, 2018

On April 12, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, released a draft of the 2018 Farm Bill, officially titled the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018. The legislation reauthorizes many bioenergy-related programs, but provides them with only discretionary funding.

The draft bill spans nearly 650 pages and includes a wide variety of provisions related to farm policy, nutrition, trade, conservation, crop insurance, regulatory reform, rural development, animal health and other topics.

Subtitle E of the legislation includes reauthorizations and discretionary funding for several biofuel and renewable energy programs.

Section 6402 reauthorizes the USDA’s BioPreferred Program through 2023 and authorizes appropriations of $2 million per fiscal year. Text included in the section also prohibits other federal agencies from placing limitations on the procurement of wood products.

Section 6403 reauthorizes the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program through 2023 and authorizes appropriations of $75 million per fiscal year. The legislation also amends the program by expanding eligibility of eligible projects.

Section 6404 reauthorizes the Repowering Assistance Program and authorizes appropriations of $10 million per fiscal year. The bill also limits payments to an eligible commodity.

Section 6405 reauthorizes the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels and authorizes appropriations of $50 million per fiscal year.

Section 6406 reauthorizes the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program through 2023 and authorizes appropriations of $2 million per fiscal year.

Section 6407 reauthorizes the Rural Energy for America Program and authorizes appropriations of $45 million per fiscal year.

Section 6408 repeals the Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative.

Section 6409 reauthorizes the Feedstock Flexibility Program through 2023.

Section 6410 reauthorizes the Biomass Crop Assistance Program through 2023 and authorizes appropriations of $25 million per fiscal year.

A woody biomass-related program is also reauthorized under the Forestry Title of the bill.

Section 8106 amends the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Program to include public and private facilities. The bill also establishes a priority to projects that use low-value, low-quality wood. Appropriations of $25 million is authorized for each fiscal year 2019 through 2023.

The Agriculture Energy Coalition said it appreciates that Conaway’s proposal would reauthorize important energy programs, but urged Congress to provide the programs with strong mandatory funding and keep the jobs and manufacturing title intact.  

“As farmers face low commodity prices, anxiety over trade disputes and greater uncertainty in the market, they will need the farm bill energy programs more than ever to open markets for value-added products,” said Lloyd Ritter, director of the AEC. “The farm bill energy title programs build infrastructure, attract private investment and spur innovation in rural America. And they have a successful record in creating and expanding economic opportunities for rural America.”

“Energy title programs represent less than one tenth of 1 percent of farm bill spending,” Ritter continued. “But they generate a strong return for rural communities, through increased investment in local businesses, energy security, and new market opportunities for U.S. agriculture. More than 17,000 projects across the United States—in every state—have been able to leverage these programs to attract investment—more than $5 billion to date.

The AEC has made detailed recommendations for improving the Farm Bill’s energy title programs and has released data that shows how these programs have demonstrated a record of success in strengthening the economic health of rural communities and contributing to the ongoing vitality of U.S. farms, ranches and forests.

A full copy of the draft 2018 Farm Bill and a section-by-section summary are available on the House Ag Committee website.