Every five years, Congress passes legislation that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. This bill, referred to as the “Farm Bill”, includes policies that impact the ethanol industry and the farmers who support ethanol production.
During the week of 11/14, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture held a hearing titled, “Farm Bill 2023: Rural Development and Energy Programs”, where Senators highlighted the need to support rural communities through this year’s Farm Bill. Senate champions shared their support of Farm Bill 2023 and the biofuels industry throughout the hearing in opening remarks and in their questioning of USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small:
- Chairman Stabenow (D-Mich.): “As I always say in Michigan, we grow things and make things, that’s what drives our economy. Bio-based products combine both. These products create new markets for our nation’s farmers, while reducing our dependence on foreign oil … So, I look forward to hearing recommendations for ways to improve the bio preferred program while continuing to build our nation’s bio-economy.”
- Chairman Stabenow (D-Mich.): The recent $14 billion investment in clean energy builds on the legacy your department already has – could you talk about when we should expect USDA to open applications for these programs and the status of these programs? Under Secretary Torres Small: “Stakeholder engagement is key. We want to make sure we’re responding to local ideas and visions. We are tailoring our programs to best support local vision. When it comes to the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), we’re working to incorporate those funds as quickly as possible.”
Additionally, Growth Energy submitted a letter for the record of the hearing highlighting the importance of the Inflation Reduction Act and the $500 million in funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide grants to expand biofuel pump infrastructure, upgrade existing tanks and pumps, and increase usage of higher blends of ethanol. “Biofuels are critical to meeting climate goals, and this law will help maximize the biofuel industry’s contributions to a cleaner future by expanding the volume of low-carbon biofuels available across the entire transportation sector – on the ground, in the air, and at sea. This funding will expand the availability of lower-carbon, lower-cost fuel options at the pump, which in turn will further climate progress, ensure greater long-term energy security, and welcome an economic boon to rural communities,” wrote CEO Emily Skor.