Energy Title

Press Release: ELPC Urges US Senate to Preserve Energy Title & REAP in Farm Bill



ELPC Urges U.S. Senate to Preserve Energy Title & REAP in Farm Bill

  House overwhelmingly rejects amendment to repeal energy programs


Washington, D.C. – During consideration of the Farm Bill (The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018), the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected an amendment from Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ) to repeal the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and other Farm Bill Energy Title initiatives by a stunning 82%. The vote was 340 to 74.

In response, Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said:

“The bipartisan House vote preserving the Energy Title sends a strong message that attempts to cut farm energy efforts should cease. Congress should step up and increase funding for effective farm energy initiatives like the Rural Energy for America Program. REAP serves all agricultural sectors and has benefited farmers throughout the Midwest and across the country.”

Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Kristi Noem (R-SD) led the House floor opposition to the measure and spoke strongly in support of these programs during the debate over the Farm Bill.

“The resounding defeat of the Biggs Amendment sends a strong signal to the Senate that these programs have bipartisan support and should be renewed with mandatory funding,” said Ann Mesnikoff, ELPC’s Federal Legislative Director.

The failed Farm Bill was defeated on a bipartisan vote of 213-198. The defeated measure would have wholly eliminated reliable mandatory funding for programs in the Energy Title, including the REAP.

REAP provides grants and loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to adopt energy efficiency and renewable energy. REAP has been highly popular with farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses in the Midwest, with requests regularly exceeding available funds.



New ELPC Report: Farm Energy Success Stories (3rd Edition)

FESS_2014_CoverThe new edition of ELPC’s Farm Energy Success Stories features over a dozen projects from across the nation funded by the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which ELPC has long championed.  These projects span a wide variety of technologies — including biomass, anaerobic digesters, energy efficiency, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar and wind — that have had a positive impact on rural development.

The new Farm Bill passed earlier in 2014 provides $881 million for Energy Title programs like REAP over 10 years, benefiting small- and mid-sized farms and ranches, as well as rural small businesses. ELPC’s Farm Bill Clean Energy Team has led the charge to extend the Farm Bill’s Energy Title programs and make these programs work well on the ground.

Learn more at ELPC’s

ELPC’s Andy Olsen talks Farm Energy with Farm Radio


ELPC’s Andy Olsen joined the National Association of Farm Broadcasters to discuss the Energy Title in the recently passed Farm Bill. ELPC worked hard to maintain support for the important program with helps bring clean, renewable energy projects to rural communities.

“The top-funded program is the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses and rural electric cooperatives to install energy efficiency and also a wide range of renewable energy technologies,” Olsen explained. “And that received $250 million in mandatory funding over 5 years. The next priority, in terms of funding, is the Biorefinery Systems Program, and that program provides loan guarantees for advanced biofuel production plants. This is an important program to get cellulosic biofuels, as well as other new biomass technologies, in place.”

Listen to the story here:

Olsen explained the difference between a grant and loan guarantee.

“A grant is actually a cost share from the federal government in a project. They may pick up, say, 25% of the cost for an activity. Whereas a loan guarantee basically says the banker wants to provide a loan to get a project built, then the federal government will cover a certain percentage of that loan in the event of a default.”

REAP can serve every state and every agricultural sector, according to Olsen.

“The eligible recipients for that are agriculture producers of all sorts, urban and rural, as well as rural small businesses, and rural small businesses include rural electric cooperatives. And the technologies that are supported in this are pretty broad so that every ag sector can choose the technology that best meets their needs. This has been used for cutting energy bills for producers and boosting their profits in a wide range of uses for a wide range of sectors.”

People can submit applications now for REAP funding and find information at Deadlines have yet to be announced, but Olsen said USDA staff are working on getting those notices out.

E&E Talks with ELPC’s Andy Olsen About Farm Energy Bill

House bill gives stalled farm program new life

Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter

A rural energy program that has been largely stalled on Congress’ failure to pass a five-year farm bill would be given new life under legislation being offered by a pair of Democratic lawmakers.

The bill introduced Tuesday by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) would authorize hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent on the Rural Energy for America Program for the next four fiscal years, as well as remove provisions that have discouraged smaller producers from enrolling.

Through the Rural Energy for America Program, the Department of Agriculture provides funding to farmers and ranchers for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy projects, such as installing wind turbines and solar panels. It is the farm bill’s largest energy program.

“REAP has benefited every state in the nation, and with this bill, REAP can continue driving rural development and helping communities develop clean and reliable local power,” said Andy Olsen, a senior policy advocate at the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Under H.R. 1273, the REAP program would receive $70 million a year in mandatory funding for each fiscal year between 2014 and 2018, as well as be authorized to receive up to $100 million in discretionary funds during each of those years.

Like the farm bill’s other energy programs, REAP has been in limbo since the beginning of the year, when lawmakers passed only a partial extension as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal. The extension reauthorized the bill’s energy programs but cut all of their mandatory funding, effectively putting new enrollments on hold (Greenwire, Jan. 9).

It is unclear whether Congress will pass a new comprehensive farm bill this year or whether it will punt it again to next year.

Along with providing funding, the Welch-Walz bill would make a few changes to the program to make enrollment easier. It would eliminate a USDA policy of requiring farmers and project owners to install a second electric meter on their property or certify their electricity use, a policy meant to ensure that program funds are not going toward residential use.

The cost of that provision has discouraged farmers from participating, according to the Environmental Law and Policy Center, which has pushed for several years to eliminate the requirement.

The REAP bill also would create a tiered proposal system, making it easier for small farmers competing against large agribusinesses to apply and receive funding, according to a spokesman for Walz’s office. It also would provide more funding toward projects that have “natural resource conservation benefits” beyond energy efficiency.

In a statement yesterday, Welch promoted the bill as a means to boost Vermont’s maple syrup industry. REAP grants have helped producers install reverse osmosis systems that remove water from sap before it is converted to syrup, a process that Welch said reduces the energy consumed in syrup production.

Also yesterday, Welch introduced a measure that would authorize USDA to provide grants for maple research and the marketing of syrup and other maple products.

Available at:


Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President


June 21, 2012

Senate Passes Farm Bill with Funded Energy Title, House Should Act Quickly to Get Bill to President


WASHINGTON, DC – With a bipartisan vote of 64-35, the U.S. Senate today passed a Farm Bill that includes $800 million in mandatory funding to grow rural America’s clean, reliable, domestic energy from wind, solar and geothermal to biodigesters and homegrown biofuels.


“This Farm Bill support clean energy in America.  This Energy Title includes policies and funding to help agricultural producers of all sorts benefit from the growth of energy efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal and homegrown energy,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.


The Energy Title passed by the Senate reduced mandatory funding by 23% from 2008 levels. Some rural energy programs were also eliminated.  However, the funding for core programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the Biorefinery Assistance Program will enable them to continue having a significant impact and benefit all agricultural sectors. Corn kernel ethanol is not included in the Energy Title.


“We urge the House to pass a bipartisan bill that preserves core Energy Title programs with mandatory funding for rural energy production, rural communities and rural jobs,” said Olsen.



The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.                    

ELPC Joins National Journal Energy Blog, Talks Farm Bill Energy Title

ELPC recently joined the National Journal’s energy experts blog. In our first post, we take a look at what the Senate Agriculture Committee’s vote on the Farm Bill means for energy in rural America.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), in particular, is a success story. It crosses agricultural sectors and provides value in every state. REAP’s competitive cost-share grants have helped support a broad range of 8,000 wind, solar, biogas and energy efficiency projects in rural communities. Since the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP grants have leveraged more than $1 billion in private investments, creating jobs during a historic economic crisis.

Read the post

ELPC Commends Expert Testimony on Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the US Senate Committee on Agriculture heard testimony from a number of expert witnesses in support of clean energy programs in the Farm Bill. Witnesses and Senators alike praised the programs’ positive job creation, environmental protection and rural economic development benefits.

“We commend the experts and Senators who took a stand for homegrown clean energy today,” says Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC), a long-time champion of the Farm Bill’s clean energy programs. “Through these programs, America has made unprecedented gains in rural renewable energy and energy efficiency. Congress and the White House should continue this forward momentum.”

Steve Flick, one of the nation’s farm energy entrepreneurs, called for Congressional action to renew and fully fund core Farm Bill clean energy programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) and the Biorefinery Assistance Program. “America’s farmers, ranchers and rural residents can have a bright future ahead of them with the right incentives,” Flick says. “Renewable energy is the future of rural America.”

Bennie Hutchins of Mississippi provided numerous examples of how REAP has helped agricultural producers and rural small businesses save money and produce income across the South. He shared ELPC analysis showing that REAP produces jobs at a greater than average rate.

“Farm Bill clean energy programs have been an unprecedented success. They have helped farmers reduce their energy bills and energy waste through energy efficiency and accelerated the introduction of modern clean energy technologies into the marketplace,” Olsen says. “Congress and the White House should continue this momentum by renewing and fully funding core Farm Bill clean energy programs.”

Detroit Free Press Commentary: Stand Up for Agricultural Programs

Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, appeared in the Detroit Free Press as a guest commentator. He discusses the need to continue the Farm Bill Energy Title, which encourages renewable energy on farms in Michigan and elsewhere as a way to provide farmers with additional opportunities for income and which helps reduce our dependance on foreign oil.

National Ag Energy Leaders Explain Importance of Farm Bill Energy Title

ELPC and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute brought together national and regional experts on agriculture and clean energy development to report from the field on the importance of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and other parts of the Farm Bill Energy Title.

Speakers included:

  • Bruce Knight, Dairy Advisor for Strategic Conservation Solutions, LLC and former Chief of Natural Resources Conservation Service at the USDA under President Bush
  • Bennie Hutchins, Principal, Ag Energy Resources, Mississippi
  • Bill Midcap, Farmer and Rural Development Specialist, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado
  • Andy Olsen, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate

REAP incentivizes a broad range of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies for all agricultural sectors across the country.  The program has helped thousands of rural producers and businesses slash energy costs and earn new income with energy efficiency and renewable energy.  Dairy and poultry producers, rural electric cooperatives, and other rural producers and small businesses throughout the country are successfully using REAP. The Energy Title is helping to accelerate advanced biofuels and bioproducts production, chiefly through the Biorefinery Assistance Program and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP).

To learn more, visit ELPC’s dedicated website,


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