The U.S. House Agriculture Committee has passed its version of the Farm Bill… better known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act or FARRM Act… but the measure doesn’t seem to give much love to renewable energy… and by love, we mean FUNDING!
Because of the lack of funding, most proposed amendments were withdrawn. One that did pass that required no specific funding was Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford’s measure for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) introduced the measure in the committee on Crawford’s behalf that would protect funding already invested. “The worst thing we could do to a project that has benefited and been a part of the BCAP program is pull the funding from it before it has had a chance to establish itself,” she told the committee. Noem added that if existing projects have their funding pulled before coming to fruition, it would send the wrong message to the farming community about biomass fuels. Despite some misgivings about the overall program from Ranking Member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), the amendment passed and is headed to the House floor with about 40 other amendments.
Listen to the debate on the BCAP amendment here: BCAP amendment debate in House Ag Committee
The lack of funding for renewable energy concerns Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who said in a statement the bill makes “misguided reductions to critical energy and conservation program efforts.” The National Farmers Union is similarly displeased with the lack of money for alternative energy and released this statement:
“Energy programs are a critical part of rural development, so NFU is disappointed that the energy title received no mandatory funding. Discretionary funds are awarded each year by appropriation and do not provide the secure multi-year funding necessary to promote renewable energy investment.”
Some groups, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, are hopeful some of these types of issues can be worked out when the House and Senate get together on their two versions in conference committee.