Report highlights benefits of a comprehensive Farm Bill

By Erin Voegele | November 29, 2013

A new government report highlights the economic importance of passing a comprehensive Farm Bill. It discusses many benefits of a strong Farm Bill, including those related to the bioeconomy and clean energy. The report, titled “The Economic Importance of Passing Comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill,” was jointly prepared by the USDA with the White House National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Council of Economic Advisers and Office of Management and Budget.

According to the document, the Farm Bill presents a key opportunity to advance the bioeconomy through continued investment in the next generation of advanced biofuels, construction of advanced biorefineries, top-notch research, support for farmers establishing new biofuel crops, and the manufacture of biobased industrial products.

The report also notes that a strong bioeconomy means that goods, fuels and power can be made from plant materials, rather than fossil fuels. In fact, the analysis points to more than 3,000 companies already producing biobased industrial products, from chemicals to auto parts and beverage bottles.

Regarding the Renewable Energy for America Program, the report specifies that 9,166 awards have been made through the program since 2009. As a result, more than 9.8 million megawatt hours (MWh) of energy have been either saved or generated.

The USDA’s BioPreferred program has also had an impact on the economy, helping to create thousands of new jobs in rural communities and adding jobs across the value chain, even in larger manufacturing cities.

According to the report, a comprehensive Farm Bill would also help jumpstart the production of the next generation biofuels by helping communities and companies invest in building advanced biorefineries, funding regional research, and continuing to help farmers establish energy crops. The legislation will also support domestic investment, development and production in the emerging biobased industrial products industry through expanded eligibility for loan programs and directed research.

Overall, the report stresses that a strong biobased economy, supported by a strong Farm Bill, will improve the bottom line for farmers while creating good manufacturing jobs in rural America. The investments made through Farm Bill programs also reduce our consumption of foreign oil, reduce the trade deficit by replacing imported crude oil with home-grown fuel, and contribute to a healthier planet by reducing emissions.

A full copy of the report is available here.