President Obama’s 2013 Budget Slashes Farm Energy Programs

(February 15, 2012) On Monday, February 13, President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 under the cloud of an expiring Farm Bill and fiscal austerity demands. The President announced that renewable energy and energy efficiency were priorities; however, they were not priorities within his agriculture budget. In testimony this morning in Washington, Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the need to fund food stamps in this economy forced some hard choices in the budget.

Of all the Farm Bill clean energy programs, the President’s budget only recommends funding the Rural Energy for America Program, REAP, at $4.6 million in 2013. This funding level is a cut of 82% from 2012 funding levels. The President restricts this funding to only loan guarantees, which have seen very low demand over the years. No other energy title programs would be funded in 2013 under the President’s proposal. It is not known at this time if the White House supports continuation of the Energy Title in the next Farm Bill.

While the President’s budget proposes to cut tax breaks for fossil fuel extraction in the next decade to spend more for conservation and alternate energy, apparently none of those funds would be used for agricultural clean energy programs.

This proposal is in stark contrast to the call in the President’s State of the Union  pursue an energy strategy of “all-out, all-of-the-above.” Clearly, his approach excludes further progress on Farm Bill clean energy efforts.

The clean energy programs of the Farm Bill have made unprecedented progress in developing and accelerating a broad range of clean energy technologies. Farmers and rural small businesses in every state and many agricultural sectors have benefited while the programs stimulate private investment, technology investment and jobs. Hopefully, Congress will reject this part of the President’s budget request and maintain the forward momentum for modern farm energy technologies.

For more information: