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Updated March 25, 2021
Overview of the 2018 Farm Bill Energy Title Programs
Congress has long encouraged the production of renewable
payments to fuel producers to support and expand
energy and products derived from agriculture-based
production of advanced biofuels (i.e., not derived from corn
feedstock in pursuit of various policy goals. These goals
starch). One payment type is for the actual quantity
include U.S. energy security, greenhouse gas emission
produced, and a second is for production increases. No
reduction, and increased demand for U.S. farm products.
more than 5% of available funds provided each year may be
Since the late 1970s, Congress has employed a wide range
used for facilities that exceed an annual refining capacity of
of policy mechanisms and incentives—including the farm
150 million gallons.
bill—to expand the production and use of agriculture-based
Biodiesel Fuel Education Program. Provides grants to
renewable energy (e.g., tax incentives to blend biofuels
nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education
with gasoline, loan guarantees to construct production
that educate government and private vehicle fleet operators;
facilities, and a consumption mandate for biofuels).
the public; and others about the benefits of biodiesel.
The bioenergy programs authorized and funded under the
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Provides
energy title of the 2018 farm bill (P.L. 115-334) build upon
eligible entities (e.g., state, tribal, or local governments;
programs established in the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171)—
land-grant colleges and universities; rural electric
the first farm bill with an energy title authorizing several
cooperatives; and public power entities) with grants for
agriculture-based programs (7 U.S.C. §8101 et seq.). Since
energy audits and renewable energy development
2002, the energy title in succeeding farm bills mostly has
assistance. REAP also provides loan guarantees and grants
reauthorized—and in some cases modified—the programs.
for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy
With a few exceptions, Title IX of the 2018 farm bill
systems (RESs). RESs include biofuels, and power
reauthorized the major bioenergy programs from the 2014
generation from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, ocean,
farm bill (P.L. 113-79), while providing many of them with
and some hydropower sources. RESs exclude retail energy
mandatory funding (i.e., not dependent on discretionary
dispensers (e.g., blender pumps). A cap of 15% of available
appropriations) for the five-year life of the bill, FY2019-
funds per year is imposed on loan guarantees to agricultural
FY2023. Mandatory funding for the energy title programs
producers for certain energy efficiency equipment and
in the 2018 farm bill is less than what was provided in the
agricultural production systems.
2014 farm bill. Because the farm bill provided mandatory
funding and authorized discretionary funding for many of
Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP). Provides loans
the energy title programs, there is typically an annual
to rural families and small businesses to achieve cost
discussion about how much discretionary funding should be
savings to implement durable cost-effective energy
appropriated. The 2018 farm bill established a new program
efficiency measures to include on- or off-grid renewable
for carbon utilization and biogas education, and repealed
energy or energy storage systems.
two authorities—the Repowering Assistance Program and
Biomass Research and Development (BR&D). Supports
the Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative.
cooperation and coordination between the USDA and the
A brief description of the farm bill energy title programs
U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for biomass research
follows. Table 1 identifies the implementing agency by
and development. The BR&D Initiative offers competitive
program and provides FY2021 authorized and appropriated
funding through grants, contracts, and financial assistance
for research, development, and demonstration for biofuels
and biobased products. Eligibility is limited to institutions
Biobased Markets Program. Referred to as the
of higher learning, national laboratories, federal or state
BioPreferred Program. Promotes biobased products through
research agencies, and private and nonprofit entities.
two initiatives: (1) mandatory purchasing by federal
agencies and their contractors and (2) a voluntary labeling
Feedstock Flexibility Program (FFP). Designed to help
initiative for biobased products. Products that meet the
stabilize sugar prices so as to avoid forfeitures under the
minimum biobased content criteria may display the U.S.
sugar loan program. Under FFP, USDA’s Commodity
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased
Credit Corporation (CCC) may purchase sugar from
processors for resale to fuel ethanol producers.
Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased
Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Provides
Product Manufacturing Assistance Program. Seeks to
financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural
facilitate the development of new and emerging
land and nonindustrial private forest land to establish,
technologies for advanced biofuels; renewable chemicals;
produce, and deliver biomass feedstock to eligible
and biobased product manufacturing by providing loan
processing plants via matching payments; and
guarantees for the development, construction, or retrofitting
establishment and annual payments.
of commercial-scale biorefineries.
Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation
Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Referred to
Program. Provides matching grants for the installation of
as the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program. Provides
community wood energy systems or building an innovative