Organizations signal unified support for Farm Bill energy title
Today, more than 100 national, state and regional organizations delivered a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees urging them to adopt a new Farm Bill with robust mandatory funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. The letter was organized by the Agriculture Energy Coalition and 25x’25 Alliance, Environmental Law & Policy Center, and the National Farmers Union.
“Since 2009, thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created or saved in rural areas by the Farm Bill’s Energy Title programs that benefitted almost 12,000 rural small businesses, agricultural producers, and advanced biofuel refineries across the country,” the groups wrote. “Continued growth in new agriculture, manufacturing, and high tech jobs are at great risk without continued Federal investment.”
The groups also commended Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; and Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., for their leadership on the Farm Bill and pledged to work with them to craft farm and energy policies that work for all of agriculture, clean energy industries and rural America.
“In the midst of an economic downturn, the U.S. agricultural sector has been remarkably resilient because American farmers have been willing to diversify and innovate. The expansion of renewable energy, energy efficiency and the emerging national bioeconomy have been vital components of that diversification,” said Lloyd Ritter, Agriculture Energy Coalition co-director.
Roger Johnson, president of the NFU, said, “America’s farmers and ranchers are ready to lead the clean energy revolution. Farm Bill energy title programs need to provide the tools to unleash this potential and open new markets for farmers and ranchers.”
Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Industrial & Environmental Section, added, “Farm Bill energy programs have a strong track record of helping to unlock investment capital for new technology. While the programs remain unfunded, the U.S. is losing economic growth and job opportunities to other countries.”
Farm energy programs have:
- Assisted 6,600 projects, employing 15,000 people, generate or save more than 7.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to power 680,000 U.S. homes annually;
- Backed advanced biorefineries in 9 states in negotiating $750 million in private construction loans;
- Helped more than 860 growers and landowners in 188 counties across 12 states put nearly 59,000 underutilized acres back into production;
- Improved consumer education and choice by labeling 900 certified biobased products;
- Identified more than 25,000 biobased products made by 3,100 companies that employ nearly 100,000 people;
- Provided matching funding to 46 research and development projects in 24 states.
The AgEC is a broad membership-based consortium of organizations and companies representing a broad spectrum of clean, renewable energy, energy efficiency and bioproducts stakeholders. It includes members focused on feedstock production and conversion technologies, rural economic development and diversification, biofuels, products and power, and renewable electricity production, environmental quality, and others. Coalition members are committed to seeing a strong bi-partisan energy title in the 2012 farm bill that builds on the tremendous clean energy accomplishments USDA has already realized and provides resources to USDA at a level that enables them to continue and expand this important mission.