Senate passes 2018 Farm Bill

By Erin Voegele | December 11, 2018

On Dec. 11, the Senate voted 87 to 13 to pass the 2018 Farm Bill. The vote came one day after House and Senate ag committee leaders released the text of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report. The bill will now be considered by the House.

A copy of the conference report released on Dec. 10 indicates the bill includes reauthorizes and provides funding for several Energy Title programs, including the Biobased Markets Program, the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Feedstock Flexibility Program, and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. The Repowering Assistance Program is repealed.

The bill also establishes an Interagency Biogas Opportunities Task Force to coordinate policies and programs to accelerate biogas research and investment in biogas systems, and a new Carbon Utilization and Biogas Education Program to provide grants to eligible entities for educating the public and biogas producers about the benefits and opportunities biogas offers to rural businesses, communities and utilities.

In addition, the bill changes the name of the Community Wood Energy Program to the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Program and relocates the program under the bill’s Forestry title.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization released a statement in support of the 2018 Farm Bill on Dec. 11, prior to the Senate’s passage of the bill.

“BIO applauds the Farm Bill Conference Committee, led by Senators Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and representatives Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Collin Peterson, D-Minn., on coming to a long-term agreement on a 2018 Farm Bill,” said James Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO. “At a time of uncertainty for our nation’s farmers, the agricultural economy, and rural America, this bipartisan Farm Bill will provide the much-needed confidence and certainty for many Americans who rely on its programs and funding.

“As a result of BIO’s advocacy, the conference committee provided mandatory funding for key programs in the Farm Bill’s energy title,” Greenwood continued. “While BIO would have preferred the conference committee adopted the Senate-passed funding levels for the title, we applaud the conferees for understanding the importance of these programs and thank them for providing mandatory funding to allow these programs to continue. As I testified to Congress when work first began on this important legislation, the Farm Bill’s energy title programs are critical to our nation’s farmers and rural communities as they develop new renewable chemicals, biobased products, advanced biofuels, and other products of industrial biotechnology.

“Due to the adoption of several program improvements BIO promoted, the updated energy title ensures that new, innovative technologies and processes can qualify for these critical programs. This will help create entirely new value chains for sustainable, renewable products,” Greenwood said. “It will also grow and strengthen America’s rural economy by allowing companies to rapidly commercialize renewable chemicals, bio-based products, advanced biofuels, and other products of industrial biotechnology.”

Additional information, including a full copy of the conference report, is available on the House Committee on Agriculture’s website