link to page 2
Updated May 21, 2020
Overview of the 2018 Farm Bill Energy Title Programs
Congress has long encouraged the production of renewable
advanced biofuels (i.e., not derived from corn starch). One
energy and products derived from agriculture-based
payment type is for the actual quantity produced, and a
feedstock in pursuit of various policy goals. These goals
second is for production increases. No more than 5% of
include U.S. energy security, greenhouse gas emission
available funds provided each year may be used for
reduction, and increased demand for U.S. farm products.
facilities that exceed an annual refining capacity of 150
Since the late 1970s, Congress has employed a wide range
of policy mechanisms and incentives—including the farm
Biodiesel Fuel Education Program. Provides grants to
bill—to expand the production and use of agriculture-based
nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education
renewable energy (e.g., tax incentives to blend biofuels
that educate government and private vehicle fleet operators;
with gasoline, loan guarantees to construct production
the public; and others about the benefits of biodiesel.
facilities, and a consumption mandate for biofuels).
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Provides
The bioenergy programs authorized and funded under the
eligible entities (e.g., state, tribal, or local governments;
energy title of the 2018 farm bill (P.L. 115-334) build upon
land-grant colleges and universities; rural electric
programs established in the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171)—
cooperatives; and public power entities) with grants for
the first farm bill with an energy title authorizing several
energy audits and renewable energy development
agriculture-based programs (7 U.S.C. §8101 et seq.). Since
assistance. Also provides loan guarantees and grants for
2002, the energy title in succeeding farm bills mostly has
energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy
reauthorized—and in some cases modified—the programs.
systems (RESs). RESs include biofuels, and power
With a few exceptions, Title IX of the 2018 farm bill
generation from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, ocean,
reauthorized the major bioenergy programs from the 2014
and some hydropower sources. RESs exclude retail energy
farm bill (P.L. 113-79), while providing many of them with
dispensers (e.g., blender pumps). A cap of 15% of available
mandatory funding (i.e., not dependent on discretionary
funds per year is imposed on loan guarantees to agricultural
appropriations) for the five-year life of the bill, FY2019-
producers for energy efficiency equipment.
FY2023. Mandatory funding for the energy title programs
in the 2018 farm bill is less than what was provided in the
Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP). Provides loans
2014 farm bill. Because the farm bill provided mandatory
to rural families and small businesses to achieve cost
funding and authorized discretionary funding for many of
savings to implement durable cost-effective energy
the energy title programs, there is typically an annual
efficiency measures to include on- or off-grid renewable
discussion about how much discretionary funding should be
energy or energy storage systems.
appropriated. The 2018 farm bill established a new program
Biomass Research and Development (BR&D). Supports
for carbon utilization and biogas education, and repealed
cooperation and coordination between the USDA and the
two authorities—the Repowering Assistance Program and
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for biomass research
the Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative.
and development. The BR&D Initiative offers competitive
A brief description of the farm bill energy title programs
funding through grants, contracts, and financial assistance
follows. Table 1 identifies the implementing agency by
for research, development, and demonstration for biofuels
program and provides FY2020 authorized funding levels.
and biobased products. Eligibility is limited to institutions
of higher learning, national laboratories, federal or state
Biobased Markets Program. Referred to as the
research agencies, and private and nonprofit entities.
BioPreferred Program. Promotes biobased products through
two initiatives: (1) mandatory purchasing by federal
Feedstock Flexibility Program (FFP). Designed to help
agencies and their contractors and (2) a voluntary labeling
stabilize sugar prices so as to avoid forfeitures under the
initiative for biobased products. Products that meet the
sugar loan program. Under FFP, USDA’s Commodity
minimum biobased content criteria may display the U.S.
Credit Corporation (CCC) may purchase sugar from
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased
processors for resale to fuel ethanol producers.
Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Provides
Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased
financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural
Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. Seeks to
land and nonindustrial private forest land to establish,
facilitate the development of new and emerging
produce, and deliver biomass feedstock to eligible
technologies for advanced biofuels; renewable chemicals;
processing plants via matching payments; and
and biobased product manufacturing by providing loan
establishment and annual payments.
guarantees for the development, construction, or retrofitting
Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation
of commercial-scale biorefineries.
Program. Provides matching grants for the installation of
Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Referred to
community wood energy systems or building an innovative
as the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. Provides
wood product facility. Grants are capped at 35% of the
payments to producers to support and expand production of
capital cost; or up to 50% for special circumstances.