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OPINION

Farm Bill energy programs need mandatory funding

Business Wire
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, flanked by Vice Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., left, and Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y., announces the new farm bill, officially known as the 2018 Agriculture and Nutrition Act, at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 12, 2018. The bulk of the bill's spending goes toward funding SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

WASHINGTON - House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) today, April 12, released draft farm bill legislation — the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 — that would provide only discretionary funding for energy programs.

The Agriculture Energy Coalition greatly appreciates the Chairman’s proposal to reauthorize these important programs; however, we continue to urge Congress to provide the programs strong mandatory funding in the upcoming Farm Bill and to keep this jobs and manufacturing title intact.

In addition, detailed Coalition recommendations for improving the programs should be adopted in the near future. The Farm Bill energy title programs have a demonstrated record of success in strengthening the economic health of rural communities and contributing to the ongoing vitality of our nation’s farms, ranches, and forests.

Lloyd Ritter, director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition, stated, “As farmers face low commodity prices, anxiety over trade disputes and greater uncertainty in the market, they will need the farm bill energy programs more than ever to open markets for value-added products. The farm bill energy title programs build infrastructure, attract private investment and spur innovation in rural America. And they have a successful record in creating and expanding economic opportunities for rural America.

“Energy title programs represent less than one tenth of 1 percent of farm bill spending. But they generate a strong return for rural communities, through increased investment in local businesses, energy security, and new market opportunities for U.S. agriculture. More than 17,000 projects across the United States -- in every state – have been able to leverage these programs to attract investment – more than $5 billion to date.

”We look forward to working with Congress to reauthorize the energy title programs with appropriate mandatory funding to ensure their continued success.”