Senate Committee Votes to Double Funding for Rural Energy for America Program; Increases Funding for New Biorefineries


July 8, 2009

Late yesterday the US Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to boost funding for farm energy programs that will create more clean energy and new income for rural Americans.

The committee voted to increase fiscal year 2010 funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) from $60 million to $128 million. The REAP program helps farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses build their own clean energy projects. REAP provides grant and loan guarantee assistance for a broad range of clean energy technologies including biomass, manure digesters, wind and solar power, and energy efficiency.

HerbKohlWisconsin Senator Herb Kohl, Chair of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, was a key supporter of the funding increase.  “Our nation faces historic challenges for our economy, our environment and our energy security,” Kohl said. “Farmers in Wisconsin and across the nation have much at stake and want to be part of the solution.  These funds will help lead the way toward greener energy independence.”

The committee also voted to increase funding for the Biorefinery Assistance program, by $17 million. Biorefinery Assistance spurs development of next generation biofuels projects, such as cellulosic ethanol. Through this program, the USDA is the only federal agency to issue loan guarantees for cellulosic ethanol to date.

The vote was a victory for the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), which works closely with agricultural and environmental groups to build broad support for farm energy programs and funding. “We applaud the Senators’ action; these energy programs help farmers and spur rural economic development, while helping America tackle  global warming challenges,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with ELPC.

The Appropriations Committee’s action yesterday matches President Obama’s budget recommendations for these two programs. Next, the Senate will need to approve the Committee’s decisions, and then reconcile the levels with the House appropriations.

Success stories from the REAP program are available here.  Additional information on these programs can be found at


The Environmental law and Policy Center is the Midwest’s Leading environmental Legal Advocacy and Eco-Business Innovation Organization.