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This farm bill brought to you by the RFS

Above: Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw.

The 2013 Farm Bill as passed by the House and Senate Ag Committees shows a shift from government subsidies to an agricultural system more sensitive to higher commodity prices. The only reason that’s possible, according to Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw, is the RFS.

In both the House and Senate Ag committee’s version of the next farm bill, the energy title received much-needed attention; in spite of some issues, Iowa RFA views the progress as positive.

Shaw says Iowa RFA paid the most attention to infrastructure through maintaining grants and guaranteed loans for blender pumps as found in the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). However the House Ag bill excluded blender pumps specifically from REAP, which Shaw says is evidence of oil interests’ influence.

The Senate bill showed a sensitivity to emerging renewable markets through its inclusion of Title I crops (such as corn and soybeans) in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). In an attempt to make biomass a viable energy stock, BCAP offers matching payments for collection, harvest, storage and trasnportation (CHST); the Senate Ag farm bill cuts CHST matching payments for biomass, such as corn silage, by $25 per dry ton, but keeps the payments in place for 4 years, as opposed to the 2 years as written in the 2008 farm bill.

Senate debate over the farm bill continues this week. The House Ag farm bill does not yet have a date at which it heads to the House floor.

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