Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, wrapped up the third and final hearing series on agricultural programs in advance of writing the next Farm Bill. This series was held on the Subcommittee level and gathered agricultural leaders in Washington to share their policy priorities. Today's hearing focused on energy and forestry programs.
The Agriculture Committee included an energy title for the first time in the 2002 Farm Bill to foster the development of more feedstocks for renewable energy development in rural America. The 2008 Farm Bill created several new programs while expanding existing farm bill programs. The programs in Title IX were designed to promote a transition from corn-based ethanol to other advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol. The two most prominent programs in the energy title are the Biomass Crop Assistance Program and the Rural Energy for America program. There is no budget baseline for the core energy programs beyond the conclusion of the existing Farm Bill.
The forestry title has been a part of farm bills since 1990. The Agriculture Committee shares jurisdiction over forestry matters with the Committee on Natural Resources, which is responsible for forests on public lands. The Agriculture Committee is responsible for forestry in general, as well as Weeks Act National Forests. All forestry programs are permanently authorized. Most of the forestry programs have spending levels set at "such sums as necessary," and are subject to annual appropriations.
"Today's panels provided the subcommittee with critical details on how the current Farm Bill is performing, what areas require improvement, and what recommendations will serve to create a stronger and more efficient law. We aim to craft legislation that will assist the nation in meeting the rising energy demand, and forestry provisions that promote healthier and better managed federal, state, and private forests. The agricultural sector will have to do its part as the nation works to decrease the debt, and I want to thank today's witnesses for assisting the Subcommittee with indentifying areas of program duplication and inefficiency as we draft a Farm Bill that meets the needs of producers and farming communities in each region of the country," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA).
"The 2008 Farm Bill encouraged a move toward advanced biofuels by promoting research, development and demonstration of biomass-based renewable energy. The bill also impacts forestland management, seeking to sustain healthy, diverse and productive forests. Looking ahead to the next farm bill we need to work together and look for ways to ensure that we can accomplish our energy and forestry goals under the current challenging fiscal environment," said Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA).