Draft 2018 Farm Bill Reauthorizes Energy Title Programs
by Erin Voegele (Ethanol Producer Magazine) 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.
“Energy title programs represent less than one tenth of 1 percent of farm bill spending,” Ritter (Lloyd Ritter, director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition) continued. READ MORE
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Excerpt from Environmental and Energy Study Institute: Energy Title Is Moved to Rural Development, Receives Only Discretionary Funding
Since its inception in the 2002 Farm Bill, Energy Title (Title IX) programs have helped farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and rural communities generate thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development. The sectors impacted by the Energy Title range from renewable energy—including wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, and advanced biofuels—as well as energy efficiency and biobased chemicals and products. The Farm Bill Energy Title programs have played an important role in the greater diversification of rural economies across the country.
Despite these successes, House lawmakers have decided to eliminate the Energy Title. The individual programs of the Energy Title now appear under Rural Development, subtitle E, “Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002,” ….
- Additionally, the Biomass Research and Development Program (BRDI, 9008), receives discretionary funding of $20 million per year.
Excerpts from Ethanol Producer Magazine: In a statement, House Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., criticized the legislation, calling it “a flawed bill that is the result of a bad nontransparent process.” Cuts to Energy Title programs are among the specific provisions of the bill that Peterson criticized. “…$500 million from the Rural Energy for America Program was eliminated as well as killing the energy title,” he said in a statement.
A summary of the bill released by the committee on April 18 shows Subtitle E of the legislation includes reauthorizations and discretionary funding for several Energy Title programs.
The Agriculture Energy Coalition is urging members of Congress to enact a farm bill that not only reauthorizes Energy Title programs, but also provides them with mandatory funding. “The House Agriculture Committee has a long history of working in a bipartisan manner to support farmers, ranchers, foresters and rural businesses,” said Lloyd Ritter, director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition. “There is strong bipartisan support for the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the farm bill, which have a demonstrated record of success in boosting the economic health of rural communities.
“The Agriculture Energy Coalition greatly appreciates the support expressed by members of the Committee to keep the energy title intact, to further improve the programs, to provide the farm bill energy programs strong mandatory funding, and to continue incentivizing new biobased innovations and technologies—aspects that are lacking in the draft proposal,” Ritter continued. “The coalition’s members look forward to working with Congress to pass a farm bill that reauthorizes the energy title programs with appropriate mandatory funding.” READ MORE