Draft appropriations bill aims to cut funding for BCAP, REAP

By Erin Voegele | May 20, 2014

The House Appropriations Committee has released its fiscal year 2015 agricultural appropriations bill, which aims to reduce funding levels for several Farm Bill Energy Title programs. A markup session on the legislation was held May 20 by the Agriculture Subcommittee.

“America’s farmers and ranchers do their part to put food on our tables, and this bill is Congress’s part to ensure the safety, productivity, and success of our agricultural industries,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said. 

“This bill honors our commitment to rural America and demonstrates to our farmers that they are not forgotten in Washington. From funding rural infrastructure development to ‎implementing programs within the new Farm Bill, this year's appropriation seeks to address the needs of rural America while holding the line on government spending and regulatory over-reach,” Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., said.

With regard to funding Farm Bill Energy Title programs, the draft legislation provides $15 million in FY 2015 funding to the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which is significantly less than the $25 million in FY 2015 funding called for in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The draft spending bill would provide $30 million in FY 2015 funding to the Rural Energy for America Program. The 2014 Farm Bill provided $50 million in mandatory funding and $20 million in discretionary funding for FY 2015.

The Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program is provided with $22 million in FY 2015 funds under the committee’s draft appropriations bill. The 2014 Farm Bill, however, called for $50 million in mandatory FY 2015 funding, with an additional $75 million in discretionary funding authorized for the program in FY 2015.

The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) has released a statement in response to the draft bill, vowing to fight the changes to the Farm Bill’s popular energy programs.  “The renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the Farm Bill help rural America create new biobased manufacturing opportunities and stable, well-paying jobs,” said Lloyd Ritter, codirect of the AgEC .”The Energy Title programs were reauthorized in the five-year Farm Bill adopted by Congress just months ago, in February 2014, and received mandatory funding to allow for program stability and business certainty. The modest investments made through that bill would pay major dividends for energy security, economic growth, and environmental gains across the United States.”

“Just today, however, the House Appropriations Committee sought to roll back the Farm Bill, by targeting the successful energy title programs for changes in mandatory spending and blocking the USDA’s ability to administer them,” Ritter continued. “The Agriculture Energy Coalition, which comprises a broad group of renewable energy, energy efficiency and agricultural groups, will continue to fight to ensure that these programs are implemented properly.”

A full copy of the draft legislation is available on the House Committee on Appropriations website. Additional information on the 2014 Farm Bill’s Energy Title programs is available here