The agriculture subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee passed their spending plans for Fiscal Year 2016. They made further deep cuts to farm energy programs which enjoy deep and broad support.
The corresponding Senate committees will act next. In May, 11 Senators requested full funding of these programs, including Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
The committee cut mandatory funding deeply, an unusual move by appropriators. Mandatory funding is established in authorizing legislation often negotiated at length, in this case the 2014 Farm Bill. These cuts are known in Washington as “CHIMPS” – CHange In Mandatory Programs.
In the 2014 Farm Bill, passed just last year after several years of debate, mandatory funding was reduced compared to the 2008 Farm Bill. Overall funding for the Farm Bill’s Energy Title was cut by 47% on an annualized basis.
Here are the changes by program for Fiscal Year 2016:
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP, Section 9007) saw a CHIMP of 30%, from $50 million in mandatory funding to $35 million. The committee also provided $842,000 in discretionary funding, limited to only loan guarantees. REAP had already been reduced by 22% per year compared to the 2008 Farm Bill.
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, (BCAP, Section 9010), was CHIMPed by 52%, from $25 million in mandatory funding to $12 million.
The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels (Section 9005), was not cut at all. This program rewards production of “advanced biofuels.”
The Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (Section 9003). The Committee action is not clear as they placed a limit on mandatory appropriations of $147 million. However, the mandatory appropriation for FY2016 is $50 million.
MichBio supports to maintain all mandatory funding for USDA’s energy programs, as authorized in the Farm Bill, along with strong discretionary funding for these programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.
Such funding will allow pre-revenue and emerging industrial biotechnology companies in Michigan to focus on developing environmentally cleaner processes for renewable chemicals and bio-based products. In turn, this will promote investment and domestic production of these innovative products.