United States Farm Bill

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The Farm Bill is a large piece of legislation that is passed every five years in the US that allocates money for farmers and agricultural programs. The last Farm bill was in 2002 and a new bill is currently being developed for 2007.

  • Section 9006 - USDA Announces Grant and Loan Guarantee Availability for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects. [1]

USDA Encouraging Grant/Loan Guarantee Combinations

USDA today announced its long-awaited 2007 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the popular Section Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant and Loan Guarantee program (Section 9006). A total of $23 million in federal funds is available to eligible applicants.

  • The key application deadlines are:
  • May 18th - Grant Applications.
  • July 2 - Loan Guarantees and Grant/Loan Guarantee combinations.

A key change this year is that USDA is setting aside 50% of the funding for loan guarantees, 25% for the grant portion of grant-loan guarantee combinations and only 25% for straight grants. However, unused loan guarantee funds will be available for additional grants.

Another change is that USDA is accepting electronic applications via this website.

USDA will announce grant awards in August. It intends to process and decide loan guarantee applications on a rolling basis throughout the spring and summer.

The program rules and application requirements are the same as last year's program and are at 7 CFR Part 4280 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Applicants should begin the application process early and use available templates and application checklists. Applicants should also contact USDA Rural Development with any questions regarding the process. A list of the appropriate contacts in each state is contained in the NOFA.

Application templates, required federal forms and complete program information are available here.

News

2011

  • Back on track: Why BCAP is worth saving, 1 July 2011 by Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy: "Since the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) was rolled out in 2009, there has been an awful lot that’s gone wrong. But in the last few months, a lot has gone right: conservation plans under the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) are now required, and new funding will now be only awarded to support crop establishment."
    • "BCAP was created in the 2008 Farm Bill to help farmers produce sustainably grown cellulose crops for cleaner biofuels, power, heat and biomaterials."
    • "The USDA Farm Service Agency blundered early on when they hastily kicked off an ill-advised matching payment element for existing biomass delivered to energy facilities. The payments were not targeted to new crops at all, but instead disrupted well-established markets for forestry residues, distorting prices and supplies."
    • "In what was widely interpreted as a warning, Congress cut BCAP’s funding for 2011 by $134 million, and barely dodged an amendment to outright kill the program."
    • "Fortunately, USDA stopped approving energy facilities for BCAP payments this spring, choosing to focus instead on crop establishment."[1]
  • Thune Reintroduces Legislation to Encourage Biofuel Production from National Forests, 11 April 2011 press release by South Dakota Senator John Thune: "Senator John Thune has reintroduced legislation (S.781) to fix the flawed definition of 'Renewable Biomass' included in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, which currently excludes any material removed from national forests and most private forestlands. Under the EISA definition, cellulosic ethanol derived from this feedstock does not count toward the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) when it is used to produce biofuels, which discourages blenders and refiners from purchasing biofuels produced from these readily available sources."
    • "This proposed legislation would change the definition of 'Renewable Biomass' to more closely conform to renewable biomass definitions found in earlier versions of the RFS and the 2008 Farm Bill definition, which included waste material from national forests and private forestland."
    • "According to a 2005 U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture study, about two billion tons of treatable biomass on federal forestland is available for bioenergy production."[2]
  • Feinstein introduces bill repealing VEETC for corn-based ethanol , 10 March 2011 by Oil Price Information Service: "In a move that she believes would save taxpayers $3 billion in the first six months of implementation, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would repeal the 45ct/gal ethanol tax credit for corn-based ethanol and lower the 54ct/gal ethanol import tariff to match the tax credit."
    • "'Ethanol is the only industry that benefits from a triple crown of government intervention: its use is mandated by law, it is protected by tariffs and companies are paid by the federal government to use it,' said Feinstein. 'It's time we end this practice once and for all."
    • "U.S. ethanol advocates have always described the 54ct/gal import tariff as essential to offset the U.S. ethanol tax incentive, otherwise foreign producers could bring in product and take advantage of the same tax incentive as U.S. producers. However, that description no longer jibes, as the tax credit was reduced in the 2008 farm bill from 51cts/gal to 45cts/gal, but the import tariff was kept at the same amount."[3]

2010

  • While Tax Package Richly Rewards Corn Ethanol, Senate Appropriators Propose Pulling Rug Out from Under Next Generation Bioenergy, 15 December 2010 by the National Wildlife Federation: "While the Senate approved a tax package today that includes a $5-billion subsidy for corn ethanol, five lines buried within the almost 2000-page Senate Omnibus appropriations bill unveiled yesterday sound a death knell for next generation bioenergy crops at a critical time for the industry. The omnibus bill proposes to zero out funding for a key program to support development of the next generation of biofuels and bioenergy based on grasses and trees."
    • "The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, has been eagerly awaited by the next generation bioenergy industry as a critical link in making biomass based energy a reality by helping with the “chicken and the egg” problem of ensuring an adequate supply of tree and grass crops to fuel biomass energy facilities. The program would provide annual payments for five years to offset the risk to the landowner of trying these new crops, as well as assistance with the cost of establishing the new crops."
    • "While Senate appropriators claim that it was their intent to deeply cut, rather than to eliminate the BCAP, the language included in the bill would eliminate all funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2011."
  • Tsunami: Top 10 Impacts for Biofuels from US Elections, 3 November 2010 by Biofuels Digest: "US voters gave control of the House of Representatives to the Republican Party, when Democrats lost at least 57 seats in the House and six Senate seats in the 2012 mid-term elections."
    • "But what does it mean for biofuels? ...[Ten] impacts — ranging from people to policies — can be seen even now."
    • "The bottom line: moderately positive for biofuels. One of the few areas where Republicans and Democrats agree on priorities is the importance of reforming US energy policy, and biofuels enjoy bipartisan support, especially advanced biofuels. Though the Farm Bill may push to 2013, and gridlock may reign, Obama will have to run on something other than health care and the 2009 stimulus, and is likely to reach out on energy."
    • "Among the survivors. The leadership of the House Algae Energy Caucus, Brian Bilbray of California and Jay Inslee of Washington, sailed through this election cycle. Senator Chuck Grassley faced only token opposition, and Senator John Thune of South Dakota was unopposed. Jerry Moran of Kansas moved up successfully from the House to the Senate. Rick Perry, who requested that the EPA waive the Renewable Fuels Standard in 2008, was elected to a third term as Governor of Texas, while Sam Brownback, a staunch friend of bioenergy while in the Senate, becomes the new Governor of Kansas. Leonard Boswell of Iowa survived a challenge to his House seat from Brad Zaun, who had opposed the biodiesel tax credit extension."
    • "Among the new faces. John Hoeven, the incoming Senator from North Dakota, was a strong proponent of E15 ethanol while Governor, and was sharply critical of foot-dragging at EPA on the issue."[5]
  • Vilsack calls for proposed rules review, 19 April 2010 by Ethanol Producer Magazine: "USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has called for public comments on proposed rules relating to the production of advanced biofuels. Under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (The Farm Bill), the proposed rules will increase production through three programs administered by USDA Rural Development: Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Payments and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels."
    • "The rule will not only create guaranteed loan regulations for the development and construction of commercial-scale biorefineries, but also for existing facilities performing a retrofit that uses an eligible technology to develop advanced biofuels."
    • "There will be no minimum loan amount, and the maximum will be $250 million as long as the amount doesn’t exceed 80 percent of the total eligible project costs. The loans will be available through 2012."[6]
      • For the full text of proposed bills and information on how to comment see this Federal Register page.

Notes

  1. Blue Skyways Collaborative http://www.blueskyways.org/archives/News/USDAGrants.htm
United States Policy edit
Federal policies: Renewable Fuel Standard | Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) | Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 | Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000 | Farm Bill

Proposed policy: President's Twenty in Ten | Biofuels Innovation Program
State policies: California | Minnesota |
Proposed Federal Legislation: Energy Bill |


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