The Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry held its final hearing today on the 2012 Farm Bill. Testimony focused on Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Energy and Forestry Programs. BIO’s President & CEO Jim Greenwood joined the panel testifying about Farm Bill energy programs along with Ryan Stroschein, Agriculture Energy Coalition; Steve Reinford, Reinford Farms Inc.; Jerry Taylor, MFA Oil; and Gary Haer, National Biodiesel Board.
“Farm Bill energy programs are working and BIO member companies are beginning to put steel in the ground,” Greenwood said. He highlighted several companies that have biorefineries today as a result of these programs, including INEOS Bio New Planet Energy in Florida, Myriant in Louisiana, and ZeaChem in Oregon.
Greenwood urged the committee to reauthorize the Farm Bill energy programs, such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program, BCAP, and the Biobased Markets Program, with meaningful mandatory funding to allow them to continue to spur America’s energy and agricultural future.
Farm Bill energy programs have had a tremendous positive impact in revitalizing rural America, helping new agricultural markets emerge, and reducing the need for direct payments to farmers. These programs have unlocked private capital for construction of the nation’s first cellulosic and advanced biofuel biorefineries; put more than 150,000 acres of underutilized farmland in more than 150 counties into production raising next generation energy crops; and led to an explosion of renewable chemicals innovation, demonstration and early commercialization here in the United States. For a modest federal investment a high rate of return has been achieved in terms of viable projects funded and operating.
Renewable energy is cleaner, safer and healthier. We cannot afford to wait to fund renewable energy projects that can create permanent jobs in rural America. Now is not the time to abandon these forward-looking, high return programs.
Other panelists echoed Greenwood’s sentiments in their testimony that energy program funding is necessary to continue bringing these innovative technologies to market and are a vital component to the bipartisan all of the above energy strategy of the United States. Stroschein of the Agriculture Energy Coalition warned that not funding these programs leaves other countries poised to leap ahead in clean energy technologies undermining our national and economic security.
Greenwood added that these energy programs allow American farmers and foresters to play the role they can – and must – play in producing domestic energy and therefore improving national security and rural economic prosperity.