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Lugar-Stutzman Farm Bill Proposal Maintains Energy Investments

Friday, October 7th, 2011

(October 7) Earlier this week, Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Indiana Republican Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd) introduced Farm Bill reauthorization legislation, the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act (REFRESH).  It contains significant energy investments while assertedly saving taxpayers more than $40 billion over its five year life.  In particular, REFRESH includes key components of the existing Farm Bill Energy Title, including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Biomass Crop Assistance Programs (BCAP).

(ALERT: While REFRESH is a positive step in the longer term, an immediate priority is next year’s budget. Please add your voice now to those opposing unfair cuts to REAP and BCAP. Time is of the essence – Congress may take further action very soon. Thank you.)

REFRESH provides nearly $1.3 billion in mandatory appropriations for five different clean energy programs with significant additional discretionary funding authorizations.  In particular, REFRESH includes annual funding of $70 million for the REAP program and an additional $80 million annually in discretionary funds.  The legislation also extends REAP to assist our nation’s rural schools with energy efficiency programs.

The legislation also supports the development of energy crops with the BCAP program.  REFRESH proposes to fund BCAP at $55 million dollars a year, with an additional $150 million a year in discretionary funding, while working to improve the program in several important respects. REFRESH includes complementary loan guarantee financing for biorefineries by continuing the Biorefinery Assistance Program for two more years.

REFRESH also adds a new Rural Energy Savings Program for rural electric cooperatives and others to help their customers save energy and money. REFRESH also extends the Biobased markets program.

Without reserving comment on the merits of the entire proposal, we applaud Senator Lugar and Representative Stutzman for recognizing that America’s the great potential for renewable energy from the heartland.  REFRESH affirms the value of energy for rural America, and the win-win of clean energy for rural economic development, energy security and environmental quality.

Proposed REFRESH 2013-2017 Farm Bill Energy Title Funding level
REFRESH Energy Title Programs Total Funding (millions) Discretionary Funding (millions)
REAP $350 $450
Biomass Crop Assistance $275 $750
Biobased Markets $25 $15
Biorefinery Assistance 2013: $100 

2014-15: $80

2016-17: $0

Rural Energy Savings Program $350 $400