Energy Amendment Adopted, Praised
Several amendments were offered during the Senate Ag Committee's farm bill markup Thursday. The Committee accepted an amendment offered by North Dakota's Kent Conrad to continue energy programs with 800-million dollars in mandatory funding over five years. According to Chair Debbie Stabenow - the Congressional Budget Office ruled that savings elsewhere in the bill made it possible to fund the proposal. Among other programs - the breakdown of funds includes 241-million dollars for the Rural Energy for America Program and 193-million for the Bioenergy Crop Assistance Program. The amendment was approved by voice vote.
The Advanced Ethanol Council applauded the move - stating there is no more urgent need in this country today than creating new jobs and reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. The council says the programs reauthorized and streamlined are doing that - and will continue to help with job creation and replacing foreign oil with homegrown, renewable energy production when signed into law. While the AEC believes it's also important to address the tax piece for advanced biofuels by the end of the year - they called Thursday's action a critical first step toward providing continuity for American farmers and advanced biofuel producers.
The National 25x'25 Alliance is also commending the decision to provide mandatory funding for energy programs. By adopting language that would assure funding is available for a number of key farm energy programs - 25x'25 says the Senate Ag Committee is encouraging the development of advanced biofuels and promoting other renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural America. Without mandatory spending - the group says Congress could authorize little to no money for programs that have helped revitalize rural America, allowed new ag markets to emerge and reduced the need for direct payments to farmers. The programs have no authorization beyond the end of the current farm bill and are zeroed out under Congressional Budget Office baseline estimates.
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