25x'25 Commends Senate Agriculture Committee for Mandatory Funding for Farm Bill Energy ProgramsThu, 26 Apr 2012 17:28:46 CDT
The National 25x'25 Alliance today commended members of the Senate Agriculture Committee for voting to provide mandatory funding for energy programs in the 2012 Farm Bill proposal being marked up this week.
The Alliance is particularly grateful to Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., for drafting the amendment, which gained the support of many other senators from both sides of the aisle. By adopting language in the Energy Title of the new farm bill that would assure funding is available for a number of key farm energy programs, the Senate Agriculture Committee is encouraging the development of advanced biofuels and promoting other renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural America.
The Conrad-Lugar amendment would set mandatory funding totaling $241 million over five years for Rural Energy for America Program and $193 million for Bioenergy Crop Assistance Program. Another $216 million would be required over the life of the new farm bill for the Biorefinery Assistance Program, $130 million, while $15 million would be allotted for the Biobased Markets Program, and $5 million for a Biodiesel Education Program.
However, the Alliance calls on all renewable energy advocates to maintain their support throughout the legislative and appropriations process, noting that the continued existence of these farm energy programs is far from guaranteed. The measure still faces a Senate floor vote, and House members are expected to come up with a far different energy title.
Without mandatory spending, Congress could authorize little to no money for programs that have helped revitalize rural America, allowed new agricultural markets emerge and reduced the need for direct payments to farmers. The programs, which have no authorization beyond the end of the current farm bill Sept. 30, are zeroed out under Congressional Budget Office baseline estimates.
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