AgEC: Ag appropriations bill aims to cut Energy Title funding

By Erin Voegele | June 24, 2015

On June 17, the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2016 Agricultural Appropriations bill. The proposed legislation funds a variety of agricultural and food programs, including rural development and farm services programs. A full committee markup of the bill originally scheduled for June 25 has been postponed. According to committee documents, the meeting has not yet been rescheduled.

Information published by the committee states the bill totals $20.65 billion in discretionary funding, which is $175 million lower (1 percent) than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $1.1 billion below the president’s budget request. Including both discretionary and mandatory funding for various nutrition programs, the overall bill totals $143.9 billion.

A statement released by the Agricultural Energy Coalition indicates the bill would reduce mandatory spending levels for important Energy Title programs, including the Renewable Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. AgEC has vowed to fight these changes in mandatory spending.

“The renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the Farm Bill help rural America create new manufacturing opportunities and stable, well-paying jobs,” said Lloyd Ritter, co-director of AgEC. “A new report to Congress, released just yesterday, demonstrates the broad economic impact of innovative biobased technology. The biobased products industry contributes $369 billion annually to the U.S. economy and employs more than four million Americans. The more than 40,000 biobased products already on the market displace about 300 million gallons of petroleum per year, which is equivalent to taking 200,000 cars off the road. Countless wind, solar, biomass and other projects are making a major impact as well.”

“Nevertheless, the House Appropriations Committee is seeking to roll back the mandatory funding levels Congress agreed to last year when passing the bi-partisan Farm Bill,” Ritter continued. “For Fiscal Year 2016, the House bill proposes cutting millions from the Section 9003 program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and the Renewable Energy for America Program. Such reductions in the mandatory funding levels that Congress previously set will undermine the ongoing effectiveness of these programs. The Agriculture Energy Coalition, comprising renewable energy, energy efficiency and agricultural groups, will continue to fight to ensure that these programs are implemented successfully.”