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2014 Farm Bill: Forestry and Energy Provisions

February 11, 2014
Author: LeAndra Spicer
Last week was a productive, albeit well overdue, one for the Farm Bill and Forestry and Energy Provisions. President Obama signed the bill into law on Friday, February 7, shortly after the Senate approved the bill earlier in the week. House representatives previously passed the Agricultural Act of 2014 - now the Farm Bill - on January 29. The bill rings in at just over $956 billion, and by Congressional Budget Office estimates will reduce spending over 10 years by $16.6 billion.

Forestry Title

Forest Roads Provision

A clear win for the forest industry is a provision that states forest roads are not point sources of pollution. The provision gives legislative weight to a Supreme Court ruling and the Environmental Protection Agency’s long-standing position that forest roads are not subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act.

Forest Products Fairness Act

The 2008 Farm Bill allowed products that contained as little as 25 percent biobased content to qualify for incentives under the BioPreferred Program (Biobased Markets Program), yet excluded a number of traditional wood and forest products with up to 100 percent biobased content. The 2014 Farm Bill amends this oversight to allow forest products to qualify as biobased products.

Christmas Tree Assessment

Perhaps one of the more unique provisions included in the new farm bill is a 15-cent fee to be assessed on both home-grown and imported Christmas trees. Contention between Christmas-tree growers who supported the fee and industry participants who did not had stalled the assessment for the past three years. Similar to a check-off program, the funds generated from the assessment will go towards the marketing and promotion of Christmas trees grown on US soil.

Energy Title

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Designed to encourage agriculture producers and business owners in rural areas to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, the program will receive $50 million in mandatory funding annually.

Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)

Providing financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to cultivate biomass feedstock for sale to energy producers, the program is set to receive $25 million in mandatory funding annually. Monies will go towards both establishment and matching payments.

Biorefinery Assistance Program

Renamed the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program, the program will continue to offer loan guarantees for renewable energy projects such as the construction and retrofitting of refineries to develop and produce advanced biofuels. The new bill expands the program to assist the promotion of renewable chemicals and biobased manufacturing production facilities. Funding for this program is discretionary, with $75 million in funds set aside through 2018.

Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels

Intended to deliver production payments for advanced bioenergy sources including biofuels and biopower, this program will receive $15 million in mandatory funding annually.

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