Biofuels groups, NFU support BBB, others demur
Growth Energy, the National Biodiesel Board, the National Corn Growers, the National Farmers Union, and the Renewable Fuels Association announced their support for the Build Back Better Act.
In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., the groups wrote that the Build Back Better Act “will build new markets for farmers and biofuel producers and help lower the carbon intensity of agriculture.”
The House passed the $1.7 trillion reconciliation bill on Friday and the Senate is expected to act on it in December.
NFU President Rob Larew told The Hagstrom Report in an email Friday, “Today’s passage of the Build Back Better Act is a big win for family farmers and ranchers and rural America. The bill includes important and necessary investments in climate smart agriculture and biofuel infrastructure. It also will spur economic activity in our communities and avoids enacting tax policies that have hurt family farmers and ranchers. We urge the Senate to act swiftly to pass this bill.”
The letter is significant because the American Farm Bureau Federation has announced its opposition due to concerns about tax increases.
The National Corn Growers Association highlighted in a statement Friday that it had worked with other farm and rural groups to make sure that the bill did not make changes to the stepped-up basis system of valuing farmland at the time of death.
“Our No. One concern has been proposals to remove stepped-up basis,” said Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. “That will continue to be our focus as the legislation moves to the Senate.”
“The House version of the bill makes no changes to stepped-up basis, the current tax provision important to corn growers. Stepped-up basis and the estate tax provisions in the current tax code help protect family farms that are transferred from generation to generation.”
NCGA did not endorse the bill, but said, “In an acknowledgment of the role farmers can play in addressing environmental issues, leaders on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees worked together to allocate the following funding:
▪ $9 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to specifically increase funding for practices that help producers implement and expand conservation practices on their operations.
▪ $7.5 billion for the Regional Conservation Partnerships Program.
▪ $4 billion for the Conservation Security Program, which focuses on whole-farm conservation systems.
NCGA also noted, “The legislation also includes a new clean fuel production tax credit that would become effective in 2027 and apply to low-carbon ethanol.”
“We are appreciative of the members of Congress, particularly those on the Agriculture Committees, who recognize the role agriculture can play in addressing climate change,” Edgington said.
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson on Friday pointed out provisions that are positive for rural electric co-ops but also did not endorse the bill.
“As electric co-ops work to reliably meet future energy needs at a cost that consumers can afford, they must have equal access to energy incentives and programs,” Matheson said.
“The House bill would give co-ops access to direct-pay incentives for energy innovation and create a $10 billion program to support co-ops’ voluntary clean energy transition. This is appropriate recognition of the need to level the playing field for not-for-profit cooperatives, reduce costs and open new doors for innovation.”
Matheson added, “The House bill includes two provisions relevant to co-ops:
▪ “Direct Pay Energy Innovation Tax Credits: Because electric co-ops are not-for-profit, consumer-owned businesses, they do not pay federal taxes. As a result, co-ops have not been eligible to receive federal tax incentives to promote renewables and other innovative technologies that for-profit utilities have enjoyed for years. The House bill addresses this inequity by providing direct payments to co-ops and municipal utilities to promote investments in new technologies.
▪ “USDA Voluntary Energy Transition Program: The bill includes $10 billion that can be used by electric co-ops to help defray the costs of voluntarily retiring coal plants or investing in renewable energy and other technologies that reduce carbon emissions.”
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Policy Director Eric Deeble said Friday that the group “applauds the House of Representatives for recognizing the importance of this long-awaited climate and social spending package which addresses some of the most pressing issues facing farming and food systems today.”
“Overall, this package includes more than $90 billion in agriculture, forestry, rural development and nutrition investments. In the face of a changing climate, extreme weather events impacting farmers and ranchers, and significant supply chain disruptions impacting the food system nationwide, these investments are long overdue.
“We urge swift action by the Senate to get this legislation passed with agricultural spending intact, to help build back a resilient food and farming system and confront the climate crisis.”
The Food Research & Action Center also applauded the House for passing the bill and urged the Senate to take action soon.
FRAC said “The critical child nutrition provisions within the bill are expected to:
▪ “Expand the number of schools that would be able to offer free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision;
▪ “Give states the option to implement the Community Eligibility Provision statewide;
▪ “Provide $30 million for school kitchen equipment;
▪ “Provide $250 million for a Healthy School Meal Incentives demonstration project;
▪ Extend the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program nationwide for students who receive free or reduced-price school meals; and
▪ “Allow states, as well as Indian Tribal Organizations, that participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to provide Summer EBT.”
On Saturday, the White House released a summary of statements from smaller rural and nutrition groups that support the BBB.
Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and 80 of his colleagues last week introduced the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act.
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