President Boosts Farm Energy Funding
President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget slates Farm Bill clean energy programs for some needed growth. The Administration released its budget in early February, and in it the President boosts next year’s funding level for REAP to its highest level ever: $109 million. The budget adds $39 million of discretionary funding on top of the $70 million in “mandatory” funding in the 2008 Farm Bill.
In addition, the Obama budget provides $15 million for the Forest Biomass for Energy Program and $5 million for the Community Wood Energy Program, as authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. The Community Wood Energy Program provides grants for rural communities to install wood energy systems in community facilities. The Forest Biomass for Energy Program provides for research on use of low-value forest biomass. Neither of these programs has received any funding since their inception in the 2008 Farm Bill.
In addition, the President’s budget calls for a small increase to the Biorefinery Assistance grant and loan guarantee program, adding $17 million.
If the President’s budget holds through the appropriations process, more agricultural producers, rural small businesses and communities across the country will be able to cut costs with energy efficiency and develop new revenue with renewable energy. That means more clean energy projects, a better environment, and a stronger federal commitment to make the program work.
REAP continues to be extremely successful, with over 3,000 project awards in nearly every state. Even with the President’s proposal, farmer and rural business demand for REAP financing continues to outpace available funding.
Next steps: The House and Senate Ag Appropriations Committees must each recommend funding levels for REAP and other Energy Title programs. Stay tuned for updates!