Renewable energy, energy efficiency, farm and environmental interests coalition urges Farm Bill proposal to reauthorize existing energy programs, provide robust, mandatory funding

WASHINGTON , November 18, 2011 (press release) – A coalition of trade groups and organizations representing renewable energy, energy efficiency, farm and environmental interests today called for expanded support for energy programs in any new Farm Bill. The coalition expressed disappointment that the FY 2012 Agriculture appropriations bill funds energy programs at the most minimal level and emphasized the need to reauthorize the programs and provide robust mandatory funding in the expected Farm Bill proposal to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, identifying $23 billion in agriculture spending cuts.

Ag Energy Coalition Co-director Lloyd Ritter released the following statement on behalf of member organizations:

“Continued progress in developing alternative energy and increasing energy efficiency is essential to the nation’s energy security and the economic health of rural America. In this challenging economic time, it is important that we not forget America’s farmers and foresters have an indispensable role to play in our nation’s drive toward a sustainable energy future.

“Without adequately funded programs to engage agricultural and forestry producers in every state in this national priority, the commercialization of advanced biofuels, biopower and bioproducts, and the deployment of diverse renewable energy and energy efficiency projects could be brought to a halt. The pioneering programs authorized in the Energy Title of the 2008 Farm Bill – including the Renewable Energy for America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biorefinery Assistance Program, and the Biobased Markets Program – have already helped finance thousands of diverse renewable energy projects and improved energy efficiency at farms, ranches and businesses across rural America, and they should be continued.

“The FY 2012 appropriations measure is a missed opportunity to help grow new markets that provide fair prices for agriculture and forestry goods and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the coming years. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to ensure that the Federal government’s commitment to ag-based energy is maintained in the next Farm Bill.”

The Ag Energy Coalition is a diverse group of renewable energy, energy efficiency, agriculture, environmental, and rural development groups that have come together to support the important energy programs contained in the Farm Bill, defend their funding in the appropriations process, and make policy recommendations to Congress and USDA on how to make the programs more effective and impactful. Member organizations include the Advanced Biofuels Association, Biomass Power Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA), National Farmers Union, Novozymes, the Environmental & Energy Study Institute (EESI), and others.

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