- The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) — commonly known as the farm bill — failed in the House on Friday in a 213 to 198 vote. The core industry issues in the farm bill were overshadowed by ongoing Republican debates over immigration policy.
- The American Biogas Council (ABC), Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) and Biomass Power Association (BPA) had urged Congress in a statement to oppose H.R. 2 over concerns it will reshape and cut funding for current programs intended to promote the use of biomass and agricultural residues for energy.
- The trade associations were concerned the farm bill would eliminate Energy Title, a provision that funds the Rural Energy for America Program and the Biorefinery Assistance Program. These programs help set up anaerobic digesters in rural areas and assist farmers in turning agricultural waste into energy and fuel.
Despite the House bill's failure to pass, the Senate is also working on its own version of a farm bill, and it is anticipated that some form of the legislation will make it to President Trump before the current farm bill expires on Sept. 30.
Industry groups have been working diligently to protect Energy Title programs, which could help generate up to $40 billion in capital deployment, create 335,000 jobs in construction and 23,000 full-time jobs to operate biogas systems, according to proponents. The groups argue the technology could also help western states avoid forest fires by removing and processing dead or dying trees.
The House bill's failure to pass leaves uncertainty over where Energy Title will end up, and the next few months are sure to see industry groups continue to advocate for its inclusion in any farm bill. In a tweet directed at USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday, the American Biogas Council signaled its dedication to prioritizing awareness of the Energy Title as Congress continues to debate the issues.
We look forward to supporting a Farm Bill WITH an Energy Title and mandatory funding. Farmers need biogas systems. They manage waste and nutrients, create additional revenue streams and even reduce odors https://t.co/NwljqawQRF— American Biogas C. (@ambiogascouncil) May 18, 2018