Farm Bill backstory
We reported in April that the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to mark up the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 – draft farm bill legislation. Lloyd Ritter, director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition, released this statement in reaction: “The House Agriculture Committee has a long history of working in a bipartisan manner to support farmers, ranchers, foresters and rural businesses. There is strong bipartisan support for the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs in the farm bill, which have a demonstrated record of success in boosting the economic health of rural communities.”
“The Agriculture Energy Coalition greatly appreciates the support expressed by members of the Committee to keep the energy title intact, to further improve the programs, to provide the farm bill energy programs strong mandatory funding, and to continue incentivizing new biobased innovations and technologies – aspects that are lacking in the draft proposal,” said Ritter. “The coalition’s members look forward to working with Congress to pass a farm bill that reauthorizes the energy title programs with appropriate mandatory funding.”
We reported in March that more than 200 companies and trade associations today wrote House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders, urging them “to reauthorize and maintain stable mandatory funding for energy title programs in the next farm bill reauthorization.”
The letter, organized by the Agriculture Energy Coalition, states, “For more than 15 years, the farm bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments. Federal leadership has paid off. Rural economic development, jobs, manufacturing, and environmental quality have all seen quantifiable and substantial gains.”
“Energy title programs account for less than one tenth of 1 percent of farm bill spending and yet provide outsized benefits. For example more than 17,000 projects and counting have been cost-shared across the United States — in every state — with more than $5 billion leveraged since inception. Public/private investments through farm energy and bioeconomy programs are generating innovation and growth opportunities at a time rural America sorely needs it,” the letter continues.
In February, we ran a Thought Leadership column by Jeremy Gilpin, Jordan Blanchard, and Cindy Thyfault of the National Rural Lenders Association: Energy Programs Should Be Fully Funded and Enhanced in the 2018 Farm Bill.