WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Agriculture Energy Coalition today expressed deep disappointment that the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 excludes funding for energy title programs from the extension of the already expired Farm Bill.
“We are deeply disappointed that Congress ignored the bipartisan bill drafted by House and Senate Ag Committee leaders,” said Lloyd Ritter, Ag Energy Coalition co-director. “By eliminating mandatory funding for energy title programs, the agreement cuts short vitally important job creation and economic growth in rural America.”
Legislation passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this year to extend the Farm Bill for five years set mandatory funding levels each year for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. A five-year Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee earlier this year provided discretionary funding for these programs. And draft legislation for a one-year extension of the current Farm Bill agreed to by the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders and released last week set mandatory funding levels for these programs in 2013.
Renewable energy projects have already created new permanent jobs in rural America and can continue to create many more much-needed opportunities. Farm Bill Energy Programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP) and Biobased Markets Program (Biopreferred) have helped to revitalize rural America, develop new agricultural markets, and reduce the need for direct payments to farmers. These programs have unlocked private capital for construction of the nation's first cellulosic and advanced biofuel biorefineries; put more than 150,000 acres of underutilized farmland in more than 150 counties into production raising next generation energy crops; and driven innovation in the renewable chemicals sector.
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.