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Sens. Franken, Lugar Lead Bipartisan Call to Protect Energy Programs in Compromise Farm Bill

Senators press Senate Ag leaders to keep rural energy title in Farm Bill

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today, U.S. Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) wrote a letter to Senate negotiators pressing them to make sure any Farm Bill agreed upon with House leaders preserves funding for programs that help cut energy costs and create jobs in rural communities. The letter was also signed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

"Rural energy production provides key economic opportunities for farmers and communities in all areas of the country," the senators wrote in a letter to Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). "We have seen the significant impact energy development has had in our rural communities, including significant job growth and investment. It is imperative that we continue to invest in these key programs."

The energy title included in the Senate's bipartisan Farm Bill includes a key provision introduced by Sen. Franken that reauthorizes the REAP program, which helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so they can cut energy bills and earn additional income by selling the energy they produce.

Sen. Franken has been working tirelessly to get a Farm Bill passed before the end of the year. Recently, he urged fiscal cliff negotiators and Senate leadership to include a Farm Bill in any end-of-year legislative package. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently told Sen. Franken he supports his push to get a comprehensive Farm Bill enacted before the current bill expires at the end of the year.

The bipartisan letter was also signed by 16 of Sens. Franken and Lugar's Senate colleagues.

The full text of the letter can be read below.

Dear Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts:

As you discuss a potential new Farm Bill with the House of Representatives, we write to urge you to press for the Senate position on rural energy programs.

As you know, the Senate Farm Bill contains an $800 million commitment to expanding energy production in rural America. This was added on a bipartisan basis in your committee in order to provide critical resources to rural energy programs for on-farm renewable energy, energy-efficiency projects, and research and development for advanced biofuels. Unfortunately, the Farm Bill produced by House Agriculture Committee lacks any financial resources and includes several provisions that would inhibit the production of rural energy.

Rural energy production provides key economic opportunities for farmers and communities in all areas of the country. We have seen the significant impact energy development has had in our rural communities, including significant job growth and investment. It is imperative that we continue to invest in these key programs so that we can provide certainty to attract investment, create jobs, and continue to improve our domestic energy infrastructure.

Thank you for considering our request as your work to finalize a new Farm Bill.

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