WASHINGTON — The Agriculture Energy Coalition (AgEC) today released a set of 12 policy recommendations (PDF) designed to help the agriculture sector take a seat at the table in addressing the climate crisis. The coalition recommends that Congress enhance existing U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to better support farmers, small rural businesses, emerging technologies, and clean energy.
“Congress must ensure that any stimulus, infrastructure, appropriations and budget reconciliation legislation is both ag and climate smart,” said Lloyd Ritter, executive director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition. “Providing relief to rural communities and supporting ongoing economic recovery and growth is exceptionally important. At the same time, these policies support the agriculture sector’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, store carbon and preserve sustainability for our future. The AgEC recommendations can be implemented quickly to save and create key jobs of the 21st century at modest cost to the Federal Treasury.”
“A REAP reserve fund supporting underserved technologies, such as distributed wind, would help address climate change and expand domestic manufacturing of clean energy technology, creating jobs and bringing down costs for farmers and others,” stated Mike Bergey, Board President of the Distributed Wind Energy Association.
“We are optimistic that Congress will recognize the need for a REAP Reserve Fund to ensure equity in the program and allow all renewable energy technologies to compete fairly,” said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council (ABC). “Biogas systems take organic wastes and turn them into biogas and valuable nutrients. These systems are one of the most impactful methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating additional forms of revenue for the on-farm economy. We are looking forward to working with the AgEC on this and other important policy recommendations.”
“Sustainable utilization of organic waste produced from forests and farms is a crucial tool in combating climate change. Using low-value ag and forest residues to generate energy helps reduce wildfire risk and methane release from decomposition, and it shores up rural economies,” stated Carrie Annand, Executive Director, Biomass Power Association.
“The National Rural Lenders’ Roundtable, one of the industry’s top trade groups who provides leadership and advocacy for USDA Rural Development’s guaranteed loan programs, strongly supports the initiatives outlined in the AgEC proposal,” added NRLR President Jordan Blanchard. “These initiatives are critical in helping small businesses overcome the effects of COVID and spur economic development in Rural America.”
“The National Rural Lenders Association serves as a prominent advocate for USDA guaranteed lending programs to support rural economic development. Guaranteed lending is an often overlooked resource for the needed capital for businesses and communities in rural America that often goes unmet,” stated NRLA Chairman Joe Geisler. “Various guaranteed lending programs fill an important gap in access to capital for rural businesses, communities, not-for-profits and tribal entities. The recommendations as outlined in the AgEC proposal help to fill gaps that we have identified and have been advocating for both to Congress and the USDA.”
The AgEC recommends enhancements to USDA Rural Development energy programs and Commodity Credit Corporation funding, such as a financial infusion for the Renewable Energy for America Program and a grants reserve fund for underserved technologies. The coalition also recommends long-term extension of clean energy tax credits; replenished funding for Business and Industry loan programs; and a new focus on Sustainable Aviation Fuels and the role of biomass in forest fire risk reduction.
–Agriculture Energy Coalition
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