Letter urges reauthorization of energy title in next Farm Bill

By Erin Voegele | March 07, 2018

On March 6, a group of more than 200 companies and trade associations sent a letter to House and Senate Agricultural Committee leaders urging them to reauthorize and fund energy title programs in the next Farm Bill.

Within the letter, the groups ask the committees to reauthorize the energy title programs and maintain stable mandatory levels. “It is essential that a healthy, robust bipartisan energy title continue as part of new comprehensive agriculture legislation,” they wrote. “We also strongly recommend common sense improvements to make these programs even more valuable in impacting a broader array of technologies.”

According to the letter, Farm Bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments. As a result of these program, rural economic development, jobs, manufacturing, and environmental quality have all seen quantifiable and substantial gains.

The letter stresses that the benefits are the result of an incredibly modest, cost-effective investment. Energy title programs account for less than 0.1 percent of farm bill spending, but provide significant benefits. According to the letter, more than 17,000 projects have been cost-shared across the U.S. under the programs, with more than $5 billion leveraged since the energy title’s inception. “Public/private investments through farm energy and bioeconomy programs are generating innovation and growth opportunities at a time rural America sorely needs it,” wrote the groups in the letter.

Energy title programs have supported a wide range of projects, including wind, geothermal, hydro, solar, biogas, advanced biofuel, biopower, biobased products, renewable chemicals, and energy efficiency. “The energy title has enabled our farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses to become more self-sufficient, and bring high-value products to market not only here in the United States, but around the world,” the letter said.

In order for America’s farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to continue to be leaders in the clean energy economy, the letter stresses it is critical that the next Farm Bill reauthorizes energy title programs, including the Biorefnery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Biopreferred Program; the Biomass Crop Assistance Program; the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Rural Energy for America Program; and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Stable mandatory funding is also needed for each program.

The letter was organized by the Agriculture Energy Coalition. The Algae Biomass Organization, American Biogas Council, American Coalition for Ethanol, Biomass Power Association, Growth Energy, and Renewable Fuels Association are among the groups that signed the letter. A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the Agriculture Energy Coalition website