Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Forwards Farm Bill Recommendations to House Agriculture Committee

May 22, 2007

WASHINGTON - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research approved proposals for the Farm Bill titles under their jurisdiction.

The Subcommittee considered discussion drafts outlining each title and approved several amendments by voice vote. Copies of the discussion drafts and the amendments approved by the subcommittee are available online. A brief summary of the titles considered and amendments adopted is included below.

Conservation: The discussion draft considered by the Subcommittee extends important land reserve programs, simplifies and improves the Conservation Security Program and substantially increases funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives and Farmland Protection Programs.  It also includes several provisions to encourage cooperation between USDA and producers or other entities to deliver conservation programs.

  • Amendments approved by voice vote
    • Costa Amendment to prioritize the long-term benefits of grassland protection
    • Walz Amendment to expand the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) to include projects that simultaneously address rural community development opportunities and environmental enhancement
    • Graves Amendment to ensure that entities receiving CCPI funds spend no more than 5% of that funding on administrative costs
    • Cardoza Amendment declaring that packing and handling operations are considered on-farm income for the purposes of calculating Adjusted Gross Income
    • Herseth Sandlin Amendment to add bison to the definition of livestock for the purposes of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program
    • Cardoza Amendment to allow USDA to encourage the development of voluntary sustainable practices guidelines for specialty crops

Research: The discussion draft considered by the Subcommittee reauthorizes many important research programs and establishes new initiatives for specialty crops and for bioenergy and bio-based products research. To maximize limited resources, it seeks to ensure greater integration in research efforts and establishes an Agricultural Research Institute to coordinate the programs and activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s research agencies. 

Energy: The discussion draft considered by the Subcommittee includes a Federal loan guarantee program for biorefineries and biofuel production plants. It also reauthorizes and improves several important existing bioenergy programs.

  • Amendments approved by voice vote
    • Kagen Amendment to establish a pilot program to demonstrate on-farm energy production  systems to help farms become energy independent using existing technologies
    • Herseth Sandlin Amendment to modify the Section 9006 program that allows farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to apply for grants and loans to purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements in farms or businesses
    • Salazar Amendment to clarify that specialty crop waste and residues are understood to qualify as agricultural cellulosic biomass
    • Fortenberry Amendment to establish grants to create models of energy independence in rural communities
    • Cardoza Amendment to create an internship pilot program to train the next generation of professionals in renewable energy, ethanol, biomass, and other biofuels.

Credit: The discussion draft considered by the Subcommittee expands access to farm credit in order to further support renewable energy initiatives and creates a new loan guarantee program for producers to carry out conservation projects. It makes improvements to Farm Service Agency lending programs, updates the population limit for rural housing lending, and makes changes to stock requirements and insurance premium payments required for Farm Credit System institutions. 

On Thursday, May 24, the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a markup on Farm Bill issues under its jurisdiction.

All markups will be broadcast live on the House Agriculture Committee’s website.