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25x'25 Alliance joins others in message to Congress supporting Energy Title

A letter sent April 29 to leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees calling for the support and mandatory funding of an Energy Title in a new farm bill was signed by more than 100 farm, energy and technology groups from across the country, with more than a third of them recruited by the 25x’25 Alliance.

“Diverse agricultural energy technologies such as advanced biofuels, biogas, bioproducts, biopower, energy crops, wind, solar and energy efficiency are poised for further strong growth,” the letter said. “These technologies already make great contributions to the nation’s economic, environmental and energy security and will continue to do so in the coming years, provided that Congress maintains stable and successful policies that support their continued development and commercialization.

“America needs a new farm bill passed as soon as possible, with a strong Energy Title that includes robust mandatory funding,” the congressional leaders were told.

“Since 2009, thousands of direct and indirect jobs have been created or saved in rural areas by the farm bill’s Energy Title programs that benefitted almost 12,000 rural small businesses, agricultural producers, and advanced biofuel refineries across the country,” the groups wrote. “Continued growth in new agriculture, manufacturing, and high tech jobs are at great risk without continued federal investment.”

The letter cites programs like the Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program and Biobased Markets Program (Biopreferred) for their strong support of American agriculture and broad public benefits to the entire country.

“Since some of these programs just got started, the next five years will be crucial for achieving success,” the groups wrote.

Drafting the letter was headed up by the 25x’25 Alliance, the Agriculture Energy Coalition, Environmental Law and Policy Center and National Farmers Union.

The groups promised Senate committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-MI; Senate Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-MS; House Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-OK; and Representative Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-MN, to work with them to craft farm and energy policies that work for all of agriculture, clean energy industries and rural America.

“American farmers, ranchers and forestland owners continue to play a huge role in diversifying this nation’s energy sources and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Ernie Shea, 25x’25 project coordinator. “The Energy Title of the two previous farm bills has played a crucial role in moving this country to a clean energy future, making it critical that Congress continue its support of energy programs that create jobs and boost our rural economy.”

Lloyd Ritter, Agriculture Energy Coalition co-director, said that in the midst of an economic downturn, “the U.S. agricultural sector has been remarkably resilient because American farmers have been willing to diversify and innovate. The expansion of renewable energy, energy efficiency and the emerging national bioeconomy has been vital to that diversification.”

Roger Johnson, president of the NFU, said, “America’s farmers and ranchers are ready to lead the clean energy revolution. Farm Bill energy title programs need to provide the tools to unleash this potential and open new markets for farmers and ranchers.”

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s Industrial & Environmental Section, added, “Farm bill energy programs have a strong track record of helping to unlock investment capital for new technology. While the programs remain unfunded, the U.S. is losing economic growth and job opportunities to other countries.”

Farm energy programs have:

Assisted 6,600 projects, employing 15,000 people, generate or save more than 7.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity—enough to power 680,000 U.S. homes annually;

Backed advanced biorefineries in 9 states in negotiating $750 million in private construction loans;

Helped more than 860 growers and landowners in 188 counties across 12 states put nearly 59,000 underutilized acres back into production;

Improved consumer education and choice by labeling 900 certified biobased products;

Identified more than 25,000 biobased products made by 3,100 companies that employ nearly 100,000 people; and

Provided matching funding to 46 research and development projects in 24 states.

Date: 5/6/2013



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