ELPC Presents at USDA’s Forum on Rural Energy for America

???????????????????????????????On Friday, Feb. 6th, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate Andy Olsen spoke at the USDA’s National Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Stakeholder Forum, which outlined program improvements since REAP’s recent overhaul and highlighted stakeholder successes. To access a free webcast of the event, click here.

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, 114 Groups Call on Congress to Renew Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs

Today, ELPC and 114 diverse groups from around the country sent a joint letter to Congress calling for renewal of the clean energy programs in the Farm Bill. Congress Agricultural Committees are working on their third attempt to renew the Farm Bill.

The text of the letter follows and may be downloaded here (PDF).

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:


House Ag Committee Farm Bill Eliminates Funding For Farm Energy

Contact: Andy Olsen,, (608) 442-6998

MADISON, WI – On Thursday, July 12, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture eliminated mandatory funding for Farm Bill energy programs that encourage new sources of homegrown energy, create rural jobs and foster energy security.

“Eliminating mandatory funding would effectively end programs that have propelled agricultural energy development,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). “The loss of mandatory funding means the programs would need to compete annually for dwindling discretionary funding.”

ELPC praises the efforts by Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) to offer an amendment to restore mandatory funding for the Energy Title. Unfortunately, the amendment did not come to a vote. ELPC looks forward to debate on the House floor and a floor amendment that restores mandatory funding.

Since 2003, Energy Title programs have incentivized thousands of farmers and rural businesses to become more energy efficient and more energy independent. Every state has benefited with modern technologies like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal because of the Energy Title. These projects are on farms, small businesses and rural electric cooperatives and make community-based energy creation a reality.

“By stripping mandatory funding from programs like the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the House Agriculture Committee halts the progress that has served every state and benefits all agricultural sectors in developing homegrown energy. This action essentially places a five-year hold on additional progress,” Olsen said.

Olsen called for a bipartisan amendment on the House floor restoring mandatory to funding to levels that, at a minimum, match those contained in the Farm Bill passed by the U.S. Senate.

“We urge supporters of rural development, job creation and homegrown energy to contact their representatives in the House to support mandatory funding of the Energy Title,” Olsen said.


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 Senate Agriculture Committee Support of Homegrown Energy


April 26, 2012


David Jakubiak

(312) 795-3713


ELPC Commends Senate Agriculture Committee Support of Homegrown Energy

WASHINGTON – The Senate Agriculture Committee took an important step to support America’s farmers, renewable homegrown energy, rural development and national security by funding core energy programs through a Farm Bill amendment passed today.

“We commend Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and the bipartisan group of 11 Senators who supported a bipartisan amendment supporting mandatory funding for programs that reduce dependence on polluting fossil fuels and help farmers cut energy costs and produce innovative renewable energy for America,” said Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“The state of the economy and our continuing energy challenges underscore the need for programs like the REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) and  BCAP (Biomass Crop Assistance Program) which generate rural development and provide a safety net to farmers,” Olsen said.

“We thank the energy title supporters, Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) for their support of an Energy Title amendment that provides mandatory funding of these core energy programs,” Olsen added.


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

110 Groups Ask Congress to Support Farm Energy


April 5, 2012



Andy Olsen

(608) 334-1456


Broad Support for Homegrown Clean Energy Shown in National Letter

110 Groups Join Call for Farm Bill Energy Renewal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than 100 diverse groups representing agriculture, energy, rural development and conservation called on Congress today to renew and fund core energy programs in the Farm Bill that push forward clean, homegrown energy. These programs advance energy efficiency, wind, solar, new energy crops, biomass energy and biobased products.

In a joint letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, signers noted, “These important and growing industries all benefit agriculture and forestry and are poised to make huge contributions to our economic, environmental and national security in the coming years, provided that we maintain stable policies that support clean energy.”

The energy programs are administered by the USDA and have made a number of accomplishments since the first Energy Title was created in the 2002 Farm Bill:

* The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has supported nearly 8,000 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across the nation in varying agricultural sectors.

* The Biomass Crop Assistance Program has assisted farmers in developing homegrown energy crops that support farms and supply needed energy sources

* Biofuel advancements have accelerated through support from the Biorefinery Assistance Program.

“This letter arrives at the Agriculture Committees as rising gasoline prices remind America that our long-term energy challenges to our nation’s well-being require long-term commitment,” said Andy Olsen, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate. “Polls show the American people believe the Farm Bill should support clean energy and we know Congress can pass a Farm Bill that reflects the will of the American people.”

Download the Letter


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

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.”

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