Outlining his priorities for farm policy this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed the need for continued support of renewable fuels in the next farm bill.
“Rural America has done a great job of helping to develop the domestically-produced renewable energy and fuel. That job must continue because when we create those opportunities, we create jobs, we reduce our reliance on foreign energy sources, and we enhance our national security,” Vilsack said during a speech at a John Deere facility in Des Moines on Monday. “USDA has to have the tools to be able to continue to help this biobased and biofuel and renewable energy economy, and we need to make sure that it’s vibrant in all regions of the country. Continuing our investment in renewable energy, biofuel, and biobased products will improve the bottom line for farmers as we find creative ways to use that which they grow.”
The secretary noted that expansion in the biofuel industry has already had an impact. “We’ve gone from importing 60 percent of our oil to 52 percent,” he said. “As a result of our biofuel industries, consumers across America are paying about $0.90, on average, less for gas than they would otherwise pay. So it’s a great opportunity for consumer choice, it’s a job creator, and it improves income opportunities for farmers.”
Specifically, Vilsack wants to see at least the BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program) and the REAP (Rural Energy For America Program) programs continued.