Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs Funded for 2016

The dust has settled on funding the government for fiscal year 2016, which began on October 1, 2015. After protracted discussions, an omnibus bill was passed that continues funding for key Farm Bill clean energy programs, with some funding reductions.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP, Section 9007) is the cornerstone of the Farm Bill’s energy title. The House-passed appropriations measure would have reduced REAP mandatory funding by 28%, from $50 million to $35.8 million. The Senate measure maintained mandatory funding and added $.5 million in discretionary funding, restricted to loan guarantees.

The Omnibus included the Senate measure and REAP funding was preserved for 2016.

For other programs, the news was mixed:

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House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Slashes Farm Energy Programs

Thursday, June 19, 2015. The agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee met and passed their spending plans for Fiscal Year 2016. The House action makes further deep cuts to farm energy programs which enjoy deep and broad support. The corresponding Senate committees will act next. In May, 11 Senators requested full funding of these programs.

The committee cut mandatory funding deeply, an unusual move by appropriators. Mandatory funding is established in authorizing legislation often negotiated at length, in this case the 2014 Farm Bill. These cuts are known in Washington as “CHIMPS” – CHange In Mandatory Programs. In essence, the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee has CHIMPed the Farm Bill, undoing that compromise.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, passed just last year after several years of debate, mandatory funding was reduced compared to the 2008 Farm Bill. Because the 2008 Farm Bill only covered four years, comparison should be on an annual basis. By that measure overall funding for the Farm Bill’s Energy Title was cut by 47%.

Here are the changes by program for Fiscal Year 2016:

  • The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP, Section 9007) saw a CHIMP of 30%, from $50 million in mandatory funding to $35 million. The committee also provided $842,000 in discretionary funding, limited to only loan guarantees. REAP had already been reduced by 22% per year compared to the 2008 Farm Bill.
  • The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, (BCAP, Section 9010), was CHIMPed by 52%, from $25 million in mandatory funding to $12 million.
  • The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (Section 9005), was not cut at all. This program rewards production of “advanced biofuels.”
  • The Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (Section 9003). The Committee action is not clear as they placed a limit on mandatory appropriations of $147 million. However, the mandatory appropriation for FY2016 is $50 million.

The following chart provides a summary of total appropriations, including mandatory plus discretionary.


Section Section name 2015 Actual Funding 2016 Mandatory President’s 2016 Request House
Ag Approps
Senate Approps
9001 Biorefinery Assistance Program


$50 $50


9005 Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels


$15 $15


9007 Rural Energy for America Program


$50 $60


9010 Biomass Crop Assistance Program


$25 $25


In millions of dollars.




Coop Tools to Advance Energy Efficiency and Renewables

ELPC cosponsored a webinar recently highlighting how Rural Electric Cooperatives can develop renewable energy and energy efficiency to improve environmental stewardship while lowering energy costs. The webinar discussed federal resources that can support coop efforts for clean energy.


  • Energy Efficiency Conservation Loan Program, John-Michael Cross, Environmental and Energy Study Institute
  • Rural Energy for America Program for Cooperatives – Andy Olsen, Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • Discussion with participants

Jointly presented by Environmental Law & Policy Center and Clean Energy Ambassadors. You can also watch a recording of the webinar at the Clean Energy Ambassadors page.


“REAP Round-Up” Training Webinars Available

(February 13, 2015) The USDA has planned training webinars and provided a number of tools for applicants to access the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). These are all helpful given the recent overhaul of the program.

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National REAP Stakeholder Forum

Note: You can watch the video and presentations for this Forum here.


The USDA will host a forum (to be broadcast via webinar) on Friday, February 6th, at 1:00 – 3:00 PM EST. The purpose of the forum is to review the recent overhaul of REAP (the Rural Energy for America Program) and to discuss  opportunities and successes. 

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Key Changes for REAP Program in 2015

(January 6, 2015) With the release of the final rule, the USDA has overhauled the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). The core program remains unchanged but a number of significant modifications should clarify and simplify the program. Following are key changes from the final rule, as provided by the USDA:

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