After hosting ten Food, Farm and Jobs Bill listening sessions over the past month, including two last Monday with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) incorporated feedback from the sessions into new legislation introduced this week to boost rural energy jobs. Braley joined lead sponsor Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) and Reps. Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Leonard Boswell (IA-03) to introduce the bill.
"The Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is the single most important bill in Congress this year affecting Iowa jobs and the Iowa economy," Braley said. "The energy provisions of the Farm Bill are especially critical because they provide a roadmap for innovation in Iowa's agriculture economy.
"We've introduced the Rural Energy Investment Act to provide a vision for this aspect of the Farm Bill and to ensure agriculture energy investments don't get swept under the rug in the Farm Bill debate. These programs will create jobs in Iowa and provide a boost in demand for Iowa agriculture products."
The Rural Energy Investment Act outlines a vision for energy jobs in the 2012 Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, renewing and expanding several vital agriculture energy programs that create jobs in Iowa. Highlights of the bill include:
· Renews and streamlines the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides financial assistance to ag producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make cost-saving energy efficiency improvements.
· Renews and expands the Biobased Markets Program, requiring the federal government to increase their commitment to purchasing biobased products like cleaners, lubricants, building materials, and other industrial products by 50 percent. This will help reduce the use of products made with Middle East oil and boosts the market for Midwest corn and soybean-based products.
· Renews and streamlines the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which provides incentives to ag producers to find new uses for biomass by-products like corn stover.
Starting last month, Braley has hosted a series of ten Food, Farm and Jobs Bill listening sessions across eastern Iowa. The listening sessions have taken Braley to Grinnell, Independence, Manchester, Marshalltown, Strawberry Point, Toledo, and Vinton. Braley joined USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at listening session events in Maquoketa and Cedar Rapids last Monday.