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Ag Energy Coalition releases 2021 policy recommendations

Wisconsin State Farmer
The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) released a set of 12 policy recommendations designed to help the agriculture sector take a seat at the table in addressing the climate crisis.

The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) released a set of 12 policy recommendations designed to help the agriculture sector take a seat at the table in addressing the climate crisis.

According to the release, the coalition recommends that Congress enhance existing USDA programs to better support farmers, small rural businesses, emerging technologies, and clean energy.

“Congress must ensure that any stimulus, infrastructure, appropriations and budget reconciliation legislation is both ag and climate smart,” said Lloyd Ritter, executive director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition. “Providing relief to rural communities and supporting ongoing economic recovery and growth is exceptionally important. At the same time, these policies support the agriculture sector’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, store carbon and preserve sustainability for our future."

Ritter says says the recommendations can be implemented quickly to save and create key jobs at modest cost to the Federal Treasury.

“A REAP reserve fund supporting underserved technologies, such as distributed wind, would help address climate change and expand domestic manufacturing of clean energy technology, creating jobs and bringing down costs for farmers and others,” said Mike Bergey, Board President of the Distributed Wind Energy Association.

“We are optimistic that Congress will recognize the need for a REAP Reserve Fund to ensure equity in the program and allow all renewable energy technologies to compete fairly,” said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council (ABC). “Biogas systems take organic wastes and turn them into biogas and valuable nutrients. These systems are one of the most impactful methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating additional forms of revenue for the on-farm economy."

Carrie Annand, executive director, Biomass Power Association said sustainable use of organic waste produced from forests and farms is a crucial tool in combating climate change.

"Using low-value ag and forest residues to generate energy helps reduce wildfire risk and methane release from decomposition, and it shores up rural economies,” Annand said. 

The AgEC recommends enhancements to USDA Rural Development energy programs and Commodity Credit Corporation funding, such as a financial infusion for the Renewable Energy for America Program and a grants reserve fund for underserved technologies. The coalition also recommends long-term extension of clean energy tax credits; replenished funding for Business and Industry loan programs; and a new focus on Sustainable Aviation Fuels and the role of biomass in forest fire risk reduction.

Recommendations

  • Provide USDA REAP at least $2.5 billion over 10 years, including a financial infusion up front. Include funding for a new renewable energy grants “Reserve Fund” for Underserved Technologies and more funding for the new Renewable Energy Grants Pilot Program dedicated to similar goals.
  • Increase to 90% REAP Loan Guarantee for any loan amount under $1m.
  • Extend clean energy tax credits, such as the ITC (48 AND 25D), at the full 30% for multiple years as well as the PTC (45) and Biofuels Tax Credits such as the 2nd Gen Biofuel Producer Credit.
  • Provide USDA with Additional RD Funding and Authorities to Improve Staffing Resources and Streamline Financing.
  • Modernize and Speed Up the Biorefinery Assistance, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Program.
  • Modernize the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program.
  • Increase Funding for and Modernize the “BioPreferred” Program.
  • Replenish Funding for the Business & Industry Loan Program.
  • Carbon Utilization And Biogas Education Program Funding.
  • USDA Should Make Sustainable Aviation Fuels a Priority Area of Emphasis Agencywide.
  • USDA Should Prioritize the Critical Role of Biomass in Forest Management and Wildfire Risk Reduction.
  • USDA Should Consider Use of the CCC to Support Innovation in Low Carbon Renewable Energy.

To learn more about the recommendations, visit https://bit.ly/2Zp8jdX