The 2008 Farm Bill expires this year. The Senate Agriculture Committee is considering which nutrition, agriculture, conservation, and energy programs to reauthorize or amend for the next five years – or terminate. Political pressure is on to reduce overall spending. The future of programs in the energy title is uncertain.
On March 29, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced S. 2270, a bill to amend the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to improve energy programs. Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are cosponsors. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Click here to see who serves on this committee.
Sen. Harkin’s office released the following statement from the Senator: "We can and we must transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy systems, and rural America will play a crucial role in this transition. With that in mind, I introduced the first-ever energy title in the farm bill in 2002, and I expanded in again in 2008. Now, as we are formulating the next farm bill, it is even more critical that we include strong programs that encourage production and use of biomass feedstocks for advanced biofuels and biomaterials, as well as assisting farmers and ranchers with adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to replace their aging energy systems. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee and in the full Senate to accomplish that."
The bill would reauthorize and amend the following programs under Title IX of the 2008 Farm Bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246)): Biobased Markets Program ($4/$4), the Biorefinery Assistance Program ($75/$75), the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program ($1/$1), the Rural Energy for America Program ($70/$70), the Biomass Research and Development Program ($30/$30), the Rural Energy Self-sufficiency Initiative ($0/$10), the Biomass Crop Assistance Program ($75/$75), the Forest Biomass for Energy Program ($0/$15), and the Community Wood Energy Program ($0/$5). (The dollar amounts indicate the proposed levels of annual investment for 2013 through 2017, in $ millions mandatory/discretionary.)
The Repowering Assistance Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, and the Feedstock Flexibility Program for Bioenergy Producers would be discontinued under this plan.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.