Farm Bill hearing on farm energy & rural development on Wednesday

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, recently announced the hearing schedule for the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization, with farm energy and rural development the topics for the first hearing Wednesday, Feb. 15.

Ned Stowe, a policy associate with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, says the hearing may give renewable energy advocates an idea if federal programs critical to the development of sustainable bioenergy and the bioeconomy will be renewed in the next Farm Bill. The authorization for current programs will expire at the end of this year.

Stowe says the Agriculture Committee is under pressure to reduce overall spending for nutrition and agriculture programs in the next Farm Bill. In November, the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture committees recommended cuts of $23 billion.

The energy title in the current Farm Bill, enacted in 2008, authorized a dozen programs, and EESI estimates that title also authorized a total of $1.037 billion mandatory funding and $1.113 billion discretionary funding for fiscal years 2008 through 2012, all to advance the development of bioenergy and other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency across rural America. “Programs such as the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program, and Rural Energy for America Program offer significant returns on the public investment in terms of job creation, rural economic development, and energy security,” Stowe says. “However, because these programs do not receive baseline funding, they may be especially vulnerable to cuts in the next authorization bill.”

Source: 25x’25 Weekly REsource