On Wednesday, January 29, the House of Representatives approved the conference report for the new five-year farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014 , by a wide margin. The Senate is scheduled to hold an initial vote on the nearly 1,000-page farm bill conference report on Monday evening, February 3. It is anticipated that final action could be taken by Wednesday, February 5, with the bill then being sent to the President for signature if the Senate approves the conference report.

Included in this long overdue and very contentiously fought Farm Bill is a robust Energy Title, which includes nearly $900 million over 10 years in mandatory funding for some key energy programs for which EESI has long been a supporter. EESI’s efforts date back prior to the 2002 Farm Bill which enacted the first-ever energy title in a Farm Bill.

Among those key programs are the reauthorization of the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) with $50 million per year in mandatory funding; the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) at $25 million per year for five years in mandatory funding; the Biorefinery Assistance Program for $200 million in mandatory funding from 2014-2016; the Repower Assistance Program which will receive $12 million in mandatory funding for 2014; and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels is provided $15 million per year for fiscal years 2014-2018.

This shows a widespread recognition in Congress of the value of renewable energy, fuels and biobased products to providing a more diverse agricultural sector in our economy; one that spurs local economic development and fosters a more diverse energy and fuels portfolio for the country; and one that promotes a healthier environment as well. The Energy Title of the Agricultural Act of 2014 can be found here, starting on page 734.