Senate passes 2018 Farm Bill
On June 28, the U.S. Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill with a strong bipartisan 86-11 vote. The legislation, titled “The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018,” includes mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. The Agricultural Energy Coalition has spoken out to applaud the senate for its action.
The Energy Title includes a variety of programs that benefit the bioenergy and biofuels industries, including the Biomass Research and Development Initiative; the Biobased Markets Program; the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Product Manufacturing Assistance Program; the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels; the Rural Energy for America Program; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
The AgEC said the legislation also expands eligibility to new and innovative technologies from renewable chemicals and biobased products, and noted it secures vitally important opportunities for renewable electricity both within REAP and BCAP.
The AgEC specifically thanked Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., for their leadership in passing the bill. The coalition also thanked Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., for her efforts in securing funding for the Farm Bill’s Energy Title, along with Sens. Debbie Fischer, R-Neb.; Tina Smith, D-Minn.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Michael Bennett, D-Colo.; and Bob Casey, D-Pa., who cosponsored Klobuchar’s amendment.
“The Coalition thanks all of the Senators involved in the passage of the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill,” said Lloyd Ritter, director of the AgEC. “The inclusion of mandatory funding for energy title programs will support more than 1.5 million U.S. workers who manufacture renewable chemicals and biobased products. The programs are essential to rural communities, helping rural businesses, farms and ranches secure more than $5 billion in private investment to adopt new renewable energy technologies and generate economic opportunities.
“As the 2018 Farm Bill moves to conference between the House and Senate, the Coalition looks forward to working with members from both chambers to secure this mandatory funding in the final 2018 Farm Bill to create good paying jobs, strengthen rural economies across the nation and make additional improvements to the underlying legislation.”
The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill on June 21. The AgEC previously criticized the bill, officially titled “The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018,” for failing to include mandatory funding for Energy Title programs. The legislation will now head to conference committee where members of the House and Senate will resolve differences between the two versions of the bill.