A coalition of trade groups and organizations representing renewable energy, energy efficiency, farm and environmental interests is disappointed in a 2012 Farm Bill draft out of the Senate Agriculture Committee that they say provides “no real funding for energy programs.”
“The Committee draft bill moves the process forward, thankfully, and we support getting a bill done this year,” said Ag Energy Coalition Co-director Lloyd Ritter in a statement. “However, the core energy title programs that are necessary to move the country toward greater energy security, increase jobs, revitalize manufacturing, and improve environmental quality require mandatory funding. REAP, BCAP, Biorefinery Assistance and BioPreferred, among others, have produced results across the country, especially in rural America where jobs are dwindling.”
Coalition member Brent Erickson of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) noted that the Farm Bill’s energy programs have helped revitalize rural America, allow new agricultural markets emerge, and reduce the need for direct payments to farmers. “These programs have unlocked private capital for construction of biorefineries, put more than 150,000 acres of underutilized farmland into production of next-generation energy crops, and ignited an explosion of biomanufacturing innovation, demonstration and early commercialization,” said Erickson. “In the short time that these programs have operated, they’ve achieved a high rate of return in supporting the start up of renewable chemical, advanced biofuel and biomanufacturing companies, as a timeline of the programs demonstrates.”
The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to begin markup on the Farm Bill this week and the House Ag Committee will also be working on the legislation.