More than 100 renewable energy and farm organizations wrote to the farm bill conference committee urging them to guarantee $900 million in funding over the next five years for rural energy programs, which are critical to the nation’s renewable energy and bio-based product potential. The Agriculture Energy Coalition is working together with the American Wind Energy Association, Solar Energy Industries Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, and Advanced Biofuels Association to promote these farm bill energy programs, which include the Rural Energy for America Program and the Biorefinery Assistance Program.
According to these organzations, growth of renewable industries is mostly due to Farm Bill energy programs, which use only a “modest amount of federal money to leverage billions of dollars in private investment.”
“These new agriculture, manufacturing, and high technology jobs are at risk without continued federal investment,” they wrote. “Helping to grow the economy in these low-cost, but transformative ways will help ease the fiscal challenge in the years ahead while also addressing other critical national challenges.”
The programs are already struggling, due to diminished funding over the last few years and the expiration of the farm bill in late September.
Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, spoke at the farm bill conference committe recent opening meeting asking members to adopt the Senate language, which guarantees funding, as opposed to the House version which contains no mandatory funding for energy programs.