New Farm Bill Preserves Core Clean Energy Programs

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Important Energy Initiatives Good for Rural Development, Jobs, Farm Income

After three years of stops and starts, debate and negotiations, the Congressional Farm Bill Conference Committee has released a compromise bill between the House and the Senate that includes mandatory funding for a downsized Energy Title, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). (more…)

Farm Bill Energy Crop Program Spurs New Growth

Friday, June 15th, 2012

New and expanded project areas for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, or BCAP, were announced by the USDA on Wednesday, June 13, 2012. BCAP is a Farm Bill program that provides incentives to agricultural producers who establish, cultivate and harvest biomass for heat, power, bio-based products and biofuel.

The new and expanded project areas include 7,500 newly enrolled acres in New York and North Carolina and three new counties in Project Area 2 in northeast Arkansas. The total BCAP project areas now include nearly 120,000 enrolled acres across 196 counties in 14 states. Here are some details about the announcement: (more…)

Mandatory Funding of Clean, Homegrown Energy Absent From Farm Bill Proposal

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The Senate Agriculture Committee released draft Farm Bill proposal on Friday, April 20, that fails to provide any mandatory funding for core clean energy programs that help farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs, create jobs and generate homegrown clean energy. Members are set to begin debate on Wednesday.

The Senate Agriculture Committee draft would inflict steep cuts to programs, including REAP (Rural Energy for America Program), BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program), and Biorefinery Assistance.

These programs have pushed innovative energy development and provide a safety net for farmers. (Click here to learn about the accomplishments of the 2002 and 2008 Energy Title.)

Without mandatory funding for these programs, they will wither, rolling back advances in clean, homegrown energy and placing rural jobs in peril. Contact the committee to demand mandatory funding of the energy title.

In 2011, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), just one program impacted by proposed cuts:

  • Created or saved 7,000 jobs
  • Cut greenhouse gases by almost 2 million metric tons
  • Saved the equivalent of over 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity
  • Generated $456 million in investments in our communities

“We thank the Senators for including Energy Title programs in the new Farm Bill in the difficult climate they face, especially the leadership from Senators Stabenow, Lugar and Harkin.  We also hope the Agriculture Committee can restore mandatory funding to these core clean energy programs that mean so much to our rural communities and to our nation,” said Andy Olsen, senior policy advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Application Period Now Open for Biomass Crop Assistance Program Project Areas

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is now accepting applications for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Areas. Proposals will be accepted until close of business, April 23, 2012.

“BCAP is an important and unique program that develops new biomass energy crops that can boost farmer income while providing a new energy source for the nation. It has potential across the country,” said Steve Falck, Senior Policy Advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). (more…)

Growing Biomass: Why Incentives Matter

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Midwest Energy News examines the importance the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) still holds for farmers by talking with Steve Flick, the founder of the Show Me Energy Cooperative and with Andy Olsen, a senior policy advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“Olsen says biomass projects such as Show Me Energy serve multiple policy goals. They’re a source of cleaner-burning, homegrown energy, and the crops they use as feedstocks can help reduce soil erosion, improve air and water quality and conserve wildlife habitat.”

Read the story.

ELPC Commends Expert Testimony on Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the US Senate Committee on Agriculture heard testimony from a number of expert witnesses in support of clean energy programs in the Farm Bill. Witnesses and Senators alike praised the programs’ positive job creation, environmental protection and rural economic development benefits.

“We commend the experts and Senators who took a stand for homegrown clean energy today,” says Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), a long-time champion of the Farm Bill’s clean energy programs. “Through these programs, America has made unprecedented gains in rural renewable energy and energy efficiency. Congress and the White House should continue this forward momentum.”

Steve Flick, one of the nation’s farm energy entrepreneurs, called for Congressional action to renew and fully fund core Farm Bill clean energy programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the Biorefinery Assistance Program. “America’s farmers, ranchers and rural residents can have a bright future ahead of them with the right incentives,” Flick says. “Renewable energy is the future of rural America.”

Bennie Hutchins of Mississippi provided numerous examples of how REAP has helped agricultural producers and rural small businesses save money and produce income across the South. He shared ELPC analysis showing that REAP produces jobs at a greater than average rate.

“Farm Bill clean energy programs have been an unprecedented success. They have helped farmers reduce their energy bills and energy waste through energy efficiency and accelerated the introduction of modern clean energy technologies into the marketplace,” Olsen says. “Congress and the White House should continue this momentum by renewing and fully funding core Farm Bill clean energy programs.”