More than 100 farm, technology and energy groups this week sent letters to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees urging support for mandatory funding of an energy title in the next Farm Bill.
Energy titles in the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills have previously funded programs such as the Rural Energy For America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program and Biobased Markets Program.
The groups said each of these has been a factor in growing the agriculture industry and supporting additional benefits to the U.S.
"Since 2009, thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created or saved in rural areas by the Farm Bill’s Energy Title programs that benefitted almost 12,000 rural small businesses, agricultural producers, and advanced biofuel refineries across the country," the letter said. "This economic growth is occurring from a modest amount of federal money that leverages billions of dollars in private investment. Continued growth in new agriculture, manufacturing, and high tech jobs are at great risk without continued Federal investment."
In 2008, the energy title amounted to .7% of all farm bill funding, the groups noted. Overall, the title has assisted 6,600 projects and generated or saved more than 7.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. The title also has helped more than 860 growers and landowners across 12 states put nearly 60,000 underutilized acres back into production.
Action on new farm bill is expected to begin with the scheduled May 15 mark-up of the House version. Though Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., had hoped to get started on mark-up before the end of April, the committee has not released a target date for action.
The letter is signed by the 25x'25 Alliance, Advanced Biofuels Association, National Farmers Union, Growth Energy, and others. See the full letter here.