The 2008 Farm Bill (The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008), builds upon the first-ever Energy Title of the 2002 Farm Bill, providing new programs and a stronger federal commitment to farm-based energy. These programs support wind power, advanced biofuels, energy efficiency, solar power, geothermal and new energy crops for cleaner energy from America’s farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.

Highlights of 2008 Farm Bill Energy Programs

Among the highlights in the Energy Title are several programs ELPC strongly supported, including:

  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP funding nearly tripled, and Congress included other improvements to the Farm Bill’s successful “Section 9006″ clean energy development program for locally-owned wind power, energy efficiency, solar energy, and other clean energy projects ($255 million in mandatory funding over four years). For the first time, REAP now includes Energy Technical Assistance funding to help farmers save energy and money and develop renewable energy.
  • Biorefinery Assistance. Grants and loan guarantees to help build advanced biorefineries; critical to jumpstart advanced biofuels production ($320 million).
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). A first-ever energy crop program to help encourage farmers to grow sustainable energy crops such as switchgrass ($70 million).
  • Repowering Assistance. A new program, Rural Repowering, assists boilers at biofuels plants to burn energy crops instead of coal, cutting pollution and creating new markets for energy crops ($35 million).
  • Biomass Research and Development. New investments for biomass fuel and power research and development ($118 million).

Other “mandatory” funding included production payments for advanced biofuels, biobased markets development and biodiesel fuel education.

The total mandatory funding for the Energy Title is $1.04 billion, which compares to $800 million in the 2002 Farm Bill. However, program funds are now allocated differently and more favorably.

Separately, the Farm Bill also includes $400 million in cellulosic ethanol tax credits and supportive clean energy policies and resources under the Conservation, Research and Rural Development Titles.

While the Farm Bill’s overall funding falls short of need, it is a good start towards addressing pressing national energy concerns.

The following chart shows the breakdown of mandatory funding commitments.