Biodiesel included in 2007 Farm Bill discussions

By | April 06, 2007
It appears that biodiesel won't be forgotten in the 2007 Farm Bill discussions, even though the Bush administration's proposed budget and the USDA Farm Bill proposals only spoke of cellulosic ethanol.

At a recent House Agriculture Committee hearing, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns assured the audience that the 2002 Farm Bill's 9006 program "is part of our proposal." The 9006 program mandated $23 million per year for a Renewable Energy Program administered by the USDA Rural Development Agency. The agency's loans, loan guarantees and grants for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses funded biodiesel projects, among others.

Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, concurred that there would be support for biodiesel in the 2007 Farm Bill, currently being put together. "There's not just a focus on celluosic ethanol, but that's the area where, without government help, it's not going to get going," he told Biodiesel Magazine. He mentioned work being done in private industry on biodiesel. "It will make sense to complement that work with research on feedstocks beyond what we've harnessed so far," he said.

The Farm Bill's initial rounds aren't about who will get what share of the Farm Bill pie, but rather how big the pie will be.

The Senate and House agriculture committees were meeting with their respective budget committees to restore the Farm Bill's baseline at press time. Because of strong commodity prices, the 2002 Farm Bill expenditures ran $25 billion under projections. As a result, the baseline for the next bill was cut. Commodity programs, conservation, forestry, rural development, food stamps and nutrition, and energy all fall under the Farm Bill jurisdiction. The food stamp program uses nearly two-thirds of the total budget.

The American Soybean Association has called for a biodiesel incentive payment to support continued growth of the young U.S. biodiesel industry. It also called for the continuation of the Biodiesel Education Program in the 2002 Farm Bill that awards grants to introduce truckers, health groups and many others to the benefits of biodiesel.

The U.S. Canola Association urged continued funding levels for the Farm Bill baseline at the historical spending levels of the 2002 Farm Bill. It also asked to reauthorize the "Biodiesel Production Program and/or implement an energy crop incentive program."
 
 
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