Senate Appropriations Committee Slashes Funding for Farm Energy Programs

Renewable Energy Cuts Far Out of Proportion

The Senate Appropriations Committee slashed funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill for FY2012. The Committee reduced overall funding from $75 million in FY2011 to $38.5 million in FY2012. REAP funding was already reduced in 2011 by 25% as the program continues to bear a disproportionate share of budget cuts.

In his introductory remarks, ranking member Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) emphasized that most Farm Bill programs were reduced by only 5%. In stark contrast, The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) was reduced by nearly 50% and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels to $75 million, a cut of nearly 30%.

REAP is a popular and oversubscribed program that has funded over 7,600 farm energy projects since 2003, directly benefitting farmers in all agricultural sectors and every state and by making renewable energy and energy efficiency projects more affordable.  Because the program provides grants to cover 25% of the cost, the $36.5 million dollars cut from REAP jeopardizes at least $146 million of overall private and public investment – and jobs — in rural America.

“Disproportionate cuts to farm energy will stall efforts to create homegrown clean energy, new farm income and a healthier environment,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate for Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We will work to restore this funding as the process goes forward.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee met late Wednesday and passed an austere Agriculture Appropriations Bill for FY2012, starting this October 1. Thankfully, the Senate Appropriations Committee wisely preserved funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, an innovative program to develop new energy sources from sustainably grown crops.  The committee reduced funding for the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels to $75 million, a cut of nearly 30%.