Farm Bill Conference Report Contains Significant Funding for Rural Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

On January 27 the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released the long-awaited conference report of the 2014 Farm Bill. This five-year reauthorization is estimated to cost $950 billion over ten years for a variety of farm and nutrition programs. Notably, the bill would end direct payments to farmers and trim $8 billion from the food stamps program. The conference report constitutes the compromise between House and Senate negotiators. The House and Senate must each still pass this compromise. Past efforts to pass a Farm Bill have stalled—it was kept off the House floor in 2012 and an initial House vote in 2013 resulted in a surprising defeat. This time, the Farm Bill seems to have stronger leadership support from the House. Both House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are signaling that they plan to bring the legislation up for a vote in the next few weeks, and Congress is expected to enact it.

While the legislation’s Energy Title represents less than one percent of total Farm Bill spending, it nevertheless supports programs important to the bioenergy and biofuels industries. The Energy Title would provide $881 million in mandatory funding to renewable energy and biofuels initiatives over the next decade and extend eligibility for certain incentives to renewable chemicals and biobased manufacturing. Since mandatory funding does not rely on annual appropriations bills, the mandatory funds contained in the Energy Title represent a significant victory for clean energy companies doing business in rural America. Some key highlights of the Energy Title from the conference report include the following...

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