The energy programs authorized in 2002 and extended in the 2008 farm bill provide important new markets for agricultural producers and should be a fundamental part of any new farm bill. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) thanked Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) for recognizing the importance of including an energy title in the Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger (REFRESH) Act of 2011.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, stated, “America’s farmers are a vital link in the creation of a biomass value chain to provide renewable feedstocks for biorefineries. Renewable energy, biobased products, renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels are an essential contribution to U.S. energy security and an important new market for U.S. agricultural producers. The growth of these new industries can create thousands of good rural jobs in research, development, manufacturing, agricultural production and forestry. In addition, construction of advanced biorefineries near biomass resources can also help revitalize rural America and add to our energy security. Growing biomass for biorefineries can produce thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in new economic activity, primarily in rural areas where economic development is greatly needed.

“The energy programs initiated in the 2008 farm bill were designed to support the contribution of farmers to U.S. energy security, but they are only now being implemented after many years of rulemaking. We thank Senator Lugar and Congressman Stutzman for recognizing the value of continuing these programs in the next farm bill. As a National Academies study on the Renewable Fuel Standard noted, consistent and long-term supportive policy is needed to grow the advanced biofuel industry. Continuation of the farm bill energy programs will help.”