Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN) introduced legislation this week that would reauthorize and fund the primary energy programs included in the current Farm Bill.
The Rural Energy Investment Act would include a mandatory total of $1.275 billion over 5 years to strengthen the biobased markets program, fund the Biorefinery Assistance Program, reauthorize and fund the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Research and Development Program.
“We can and we must transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy systems, and rural America will play a crucial role in this transition,” said Sen. Harkin. “As we are formulating the next farm bill, it is even more critical that we include strong programs that encourage production and use of biomass feedstocks for advanced biofuels and biomaterials, as well as assisting farmers and ranchers with adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to replace their aging energy systems.”
The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) says this legislation should serve as a bi-partisan basis for the Energy Title as the Senate begins debate on a new Farm Bill, which is scheduled to expire in September 2012. “Imagine a future in farm country that provides advanced biofuels for cars and trucks, even planes, wind, solar and geothermal power for our homes and schools, cleans the air and water, and vastly improves our national security – this is all happening now and will continue if we stay the course,” said Lloyd Ritter, a co-director of AgEC.
The AgEC includes organizations and companies representing renewable energy and bioproducts stakeholders committed to seeing a strong bi-partisan energy title in the 2012 farm bill.