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Feb 2014
10
February 10, 2014

2014 Farm Bill Renews Energy, Environment Programs


On Feb. 7, President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (“Farm Bill”) during a ceremony at Michigan State University.  Although much of the debate surrounding the law concerned farm subsidies and food stamp assistance, the law reauthorizes numerous environmental and energy programs relating to agriculture.  Noteworthy reauthorizations and modifications are as follows:

Conservation
 
  • With respect to land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, the 2014 Farm Bill shifts responsibility for authorizing permitted activities, including the installation of wind turbines, from the landowner to the Secretary of Agriculture. (Section 2004)
  • The 2014 Farm Bill continues the authorization of the Secretary to acquire for value, permanent or 30-year term wetland easements and places a priority on wetlands valuable for migratory bird and wildlife habitat.  (Section 2301)

Rural Development
 
  • The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorizes grants and loans for the development of waste and wastewater facilities in rural communities, with communities of less than 5,500 in population receiving priority for funding.

Energy

  • The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorizes the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels at $15 million per year.  Under the program, advanced biofuels are produced from renewable biomass crops such as cellulose, sugar and starch (other than ethanol derived from corn kernel starch), hemicelluloses, lignin, waste materials, biogas, butanol, diesel-equivalent fuel, sugarcane, and nonfood crops such as poplar trees or switchgrass.
  • The 2014 Farm Bill creates a tiered application process for grants under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants to small rural businesses for energy efficiency and other programs.
  • Related to additional biomass energy research, the 2014 Farm Bill reauthorizes the program at $20 million per year.

If you have questions or desire further information regarding this issue, please contact Steven Weyhing at 517.679.7418, or sweyhing@wnj.com, or any other member of the Resource, Energy and Environment Practice Group.

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