The Senate Ag Committee Wednesday held the first in a series of meetings focused on the next Farm Bill. Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow told the gathering – the Farm Bill will continue to play a major role in helping businesses create jobs in rural America. This first hearing of 2012 focused on rural development, bio-based manufacturing and Farm Bill energy initiatives.
Stabenow noted that – bio-based manufacturing is a great example of new opportunities in rural America that create good jobs. The Senator also highlighted energy as an area where growth potential exists in rural America. She said – Farm Bill energy programs are spurring new, homegrown energy markets as well as keeping costs for farmers and other small businesses low.
During the hearing Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told the panel – the U.S. has the potential to produce more than a billion dry tons of biomass each year for the energy industry by mid-century, without impacting other farm and forestry products. He said – that would be enough to displace approximately 30 percent of our country’s present petroleum consumption.
Missouri Farmers Union member Steve Flick, representing the National Farmers Union, and board chairman of Show Me Energy Cooperative, said – Show Me Energy’s use of BCAP is a compelling example of how farm bill energy title programs are incentivizing the production of dedicated energy crops. He said – we need to be increasing those programs that will help revitalize rural America and help America become more energy secure.