BY LIZ ZABEL | IOWA ENERGY CENTER
After several years of debate, the Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and Congress have come to an agreement and recently passed the new five-year farm bill. The new bill, which accompanies the “Agricultural Act of 2014,” authorizes nearly $1 trillion in spending on farm subsidies and nutrition programs. About 80 percent of the bill is for federal nutrition assistance, while the remainder supports agricultural subsidies, conservation programs, energy initiatives and other smaller programs.
Nearly $900 million will support renewable energy, energy efficiency, biofuels initiatives and bioproducts stakeholders including the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Renewable Energy for America Program, the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, and the Biomass Research and Development Initiative. The bill will also make renewable chemicals eligible for funding under biorefinery and biomass assistance programs and will also support crops grown for the bio-based products industry.
The bill will cut the food stamp program by $8 billion, but increase financing to food banks by $200 million. A subsidy for farmers known as direct payments ($5 billion a year which was paid to farmers whether they grew crops or not) was completely eliminated, but some of that money was added to government-subsidized crop insurance (totaling $9 billion per year to ensure farmers receive subsidies only when affected by disaster). The bill also cuts $6 billion from conservation over the next decade by consolidating 23 conservation programs into 13.
For additional information about the new farm bill and the rest of its funding appropriations, read these official documents posted by land-grant.org.
Congress approves 5-year farm bill, Politico
Negotiators release final farm bill with wins for conservation, renewable energy, E&E News
House Approves Farm Bill, Ending 2-Year Impasse, New York Times
Farm Bill Compromise Includes $881 Mil for Energy, Domestic Fuel
House passes farm five-year farm bill, Des Moines Register