Farm Bill Provisions Can Spur Production of Advanced, Low-Carbon Biofuels

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Friday, May 09, 2008) - The Farm Bill agreement announced yesterday by U.S. House and Senate negotiators will encourage biofuel producers to move more rapidly to commercialize advanced biofuels and help farmers transition to growing energy crops for a sustainable biofuel industry. Biotechnology Industry Organization President & CEO Jim Greenwood today thanked House and Senate leaders and issued the following statement:

“BIO and its member companies are working to make low-carbon biofuels from cellulose a reality in the very near future. The Farm Bill agreement will help both biofuel producers and farmers coordinate their efforts to deploy the technology for turning dedicated energy crops such as perennial grasses, trees and other non-food feedstocks into advanced biofuels.”

As announced, the final Farm Bill Conference Report includes an important new incentive for the development of cellulosic biofuels, which can be produced from perennial grasses, trees, and other non-food feedstocks. With an abundant and diverse source of feedstocks available, cellulosic biofuels hold tremendous promise as a home-grown alternative to fossil-based fuels. But because cellulosic biofuels are emerging technologies, government assistance is needed to spur these fuels so they can be produced on a commercial scale. This package includes a new, temporary production tax credit for up to $1.01 per gallon, available through December 31, 2012, with an estimated cost of $403 million over the ten-year budget window.

The conference report will also include loan guarantees to assist the construction of commercial biorefineries for production of advanced biofuels. It also creates a Biomass Crop Assistance Program that will help farmers transition to growing cellulosic energy crops for these biorefineries. Lastly, it continues funding research and development into making advanced, low-carbon biofuels cost-competitive for consumers.

“The farm bill energy title will accelerate the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels technologies and will help ensure abundant fuel and food resources are produced by the nation’s farmers and fuel producers,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section.

BIO supports the production of ethanol from all feedstocks. Biotechnology is helping to increase corn and soybean yields, convert corn starch and crop residues into ethanol more efficiently, and develop new “green” non-food feedstocks for low-carbon advanced biofuels. With ongoing advances in biotechnology, biofuels can help America meet nearly half its transportation-fuel needs by the middle of this century.

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BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.