Boozman Releases Farm Bill Outline That Includes SAF, Biorefining Provisions

Source: By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, on June 11 released an outline of the Senate Republicans’ version of the 2024 Farm Bill. The outline includes several provisions that support the biorefining and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) industries.

The Energy Tile of the 2024 Farm Bill summary released by Boozman includes language directing the USDA to establish a strategy for advancing the production of SAF and clarifies that SAF is an eligible technology under the USDA’s Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Program (Section 9003 loan guarantee program).

The legislation also includes provisions that aim to increase transparency and provide certainty to 9003 program applicants by establishing a technical review agreement that specifies clear outcomes and timelines that applicants need to achieve in order to secure funding. In addition, it also restores a grant component to the program to develop, construct or retrofit pilot or demonstration-scale biorefineries.

The bill aims to improve the Rural Energy for America program by increasing the eligible project size to $50 million; increasing the federal cost share to 50%, creating a new covered rebate pilot program to meet immediate producer needs incurred outside the application period; making grants available to organizations that provide technical assistance to producers and rural small businesses applying for REAP awards; and requiring a simplified application process for projects less than $50,000.

Additional provisions set to be included in the bill aim to strengthen the BioPreferred program by increasing the number and volume of biobased federal procurement contracts; directing the agency to consider increasing the minimum biobased content for each designated product category by up to 5% every five years; strengthening reporting of biobased products that are purchased through online federal procurement systems; and directing the U.S. Commerce Department to develop North American Industry Classification System (NBAICS) product codes for biobased products.

The Farm Bill is a package of legislation that is normally passed every five years. It covers a wide range of programs, including crop insurance, nutrition programs and programs that support bioenergy initiatives.

Congress most recently passed a Farm Bill package in 2018. That legislation was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2023. Lawmakers, however, extended the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill for one year, through Sept. 30, 2024, as part of a stopgap bill approved on Nov. 14, 2024, to avoid a government shutdown.

The outline released by Boozman on June 11 is the third such 2024 Farm Bill outline released over the past several weeks. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, released an outlineof the Senate Democrats’ version of the legislation on May 1. The House Agriculture Committee also released a summary of the House version of the 2024 Farm Bill on May 1, followed by a discussion draft that was released May 17. The House Ag Committee on May 24 completed markup of its version of the bill and passed the proposed legislation by a 33-21 vote. Once the full House and Senate are able to pass their respective versions of the 2024 Farm Bill, the legislation will likely be combined into one compromise package via a conference committee. Both the Senate and House must then pass the combined legislative package before it can be signed into law.

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