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BIO Applauds Bipartisan Congressional Letters Supporting Funding of Farm Bill Energy Programs

April 14, 2019
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Washington, D.C. (April 17, 2019) – Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Jim Greenwood today applauded a Senate letter authored by Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and a House letter authored by Representatives Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Mike Bost (R-Ill.) expressing support for funding Farm Bill energy programs in Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations. Each letter was addressed to the chairman and ranking member of the corresponding chamber’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The Senate letter was signed by 16 senators, and the House letter was signed by 38 members.

“BIO applauds Senator Smith and Representatives Craig and Bost for spearheading these letters and highlighting the importance of the Farm Bill’s energy programs. The programs benefit our nation by driving new industrial biotechnology innovations that are helping tackle society’s most pressing environmental challenges, create healthier neighborhoods for future generations, and bring jobs to rural communities.

“At a time of unpredictability for our nation’s farmers, the agricultural economy, and rural America, it is critical Congress provide funding that will boost certainty for the many Americans who utilize these programs in developing renewable chemicals, advanced biofuels, and other bio-based products. We thank all the members who signed the letters and look forward to continuing to lead the efforts to ensure future funding of these programs.”

Last year, BIO was instrumental in the development of the 2018 Farm Bill’s energy title. As a result of BIO’s advocacy, Congress provided mandatory funding to key programs and adopted several improvements BIO promoted to ensure that new, innovative technologies and processes can qualify for these critical programs. BIO is working closely with congressional appropriators to ensure these programs are properly funded.

A PDF of the Senate letter is available here. A PDF of the House letter is available here. Text of the letter is below.

Dear [Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Merkley] OR [Chairman Bishop and Ranking Member Fortenberry]:

We write to express our support for robust funding of energy programs in the Fiscal Year 2020 Departments of Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Act. Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) energy programs authorized in the recently enacted bipartisan Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 will help improve our nation's energy security and economic development. In addition to diversifying our energy supply with renewable energy sources, these programs help rural communities produce good paying jobs, advance manufacturing, and address our changing environment.

Every state in the United States utilizes USDA's energy programs. These programs include support for wind, solar, advanced biofuels, biogas, biopower, bioproducts, renewable chemicals, hydroelectric, hydrogen, energy storage, and energy efficiency projects in our communities. At a time of low farm incomes and uncertainty with foreign markets, investing in impactful cost-sharing programs improves the bottom line for rural communities while securing a more sustainable future.

USDA s energy programs are cross-cutting, cost-effective, and revitalize the rural economy. These include the Biobased Markets Program (BioPreferred), the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biomass Research & Development Initiative, the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, the Carbon Utilization and Biogas Education Program, the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels Program, and the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP). Because of its popularity, REAP is typically oversubscribed, demonstrating the need for robust support.

The development of the FY 2020 appropriations bill comes at a critical time as the USDA proceeds with the implementation of programmatic changes authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. This bipartisan legislation expanded the scope of these programs to reflect new and innovative technologies while addressing pressing agricultural and societal needs, such as carbon utilization and energy storage. We believe these programs represent economically and technically feasible approaches to meeting our nation's economic development, energy security and environmental policy objectives.

Again, please support and provide robust funding for USDA energy programs. Thank you for your kind consideration.




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