Senate passes farm bill with mandatory energy title funds
In a vote of 66-27, the U.S. Senate passed its version of a new Farm Bill, leaving the ag energy industry satisfied with the inclusion of mandatory funding for energy title programs.
Unlike the House, the Senate included mandatory funding in its version passed during the last attempt at a new Farm Bill, before election of the new Congress. The House did not take it up in time, however, and instead a short-term extension was pushed through.
The Senate’s version of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 includes the following energy title programs:
Biomass Crop Assistance Program: $38 million for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Biobased Markets Program: $2 million in appropriated funding and $3 million in mandatory funding for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance: $100 million in mandatory funding for fiscal year 2014; $58 million in mandatory for each of fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels: $20 million in appropriated funding for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Rural Energy for American Program: $20 million in appropriated funding and $68.2 million in mandatory funding for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Biomass Research and Development: $30 million in appropriated funding and $26 million in mandatory funding for each of fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association said the Senate’s decision to maintain mandatory funding for the energy title provisions in the farm bill, such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program, is critical to continuing the advanced biofuel industry’s growth and success.
The Agriculture Energy Coalition also commended the Senate on robust mandatory funding for the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. “We urge the House of Representatives to include the same funding of Farm Bill energy programs in its version of the legislation,” said Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the coalition. We look forward to working with Sens. Stabenow and Cochran as well as members of the House of Representatives to ensure the continued success of Farm Bill energy programs.”
The National Corn Growers Association congratulated the Senate on passage of the bill, and is urging the House of Representatives to quickly follow suit. “America’s farmers greatly appreciate the leadership and bipartisan efforts by the Senate to complete their work on the farm bill,” said NCGA President Pam Johnson. “We also recognize the efforts put forth to address regional concerns to ensure all areas of the country are adequately represented in the final language.”
Now, the House must bring the version passed by the Committee on Agriculture in mid-May to the floor for a vote, which is expected to occur within a few weeks. The version eliminates mandatory spending under the energy title, and reauthorizes programs at reduced discretionary funding levels.