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Chairman David Scott Opening Statement at Hearing “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Energy — Renewable Energy Opportunities in Rural America”

WASHINGTON - House Agriculture Chairman David Scott of Georgia delivered the following statement at today's hearing “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Energy — Renewable Energy Opportunities in Rural America”

[As prepared for delivery]

Good morning and welcome to another important hearing in our work to review the 2018 Farm Bill and prepare for the 2023 Farm Bill.

Today’s hearing will cover the various farm bill provisions that cover energy production, and I’m looking forward to looking deeply into how renewable energy production can provide new revenue streams for agricultural producers and the economies of their communities.

I want to start by highlighting a troubling trend – following the creation of the Energy Title in the 2002 Farm Bill, each farm bill after that has cut mandatory spending available for the title. Only 20 percent of the funding for Energy Title programs was mandatory in our most recent farm bill.

Let me clarify for the folks at home that mandatory money in the farm bill is money you can count on, money that is guaranteed to go into a program, but discretionary money needs to be included in an appropriations bill. 

This is a significant problem since many energy title programs ultimately have not received any discretionary appropriations. I want to be clear: for the upcoming 2023 Farm Bill, we need to consider what the needs are for our ag and forestry sectors as well as our rural small businesses in terms of their potential role in producing renewable energy.  We also know that there is a tremendous interest from rural areas in undertaking energy efficiency efforts to help their bottom lines.

Our farmers like these programs, and they deserve more certainty. We have heard time and again the positive developments that have come from work on renewable energy production and how much value is added to rural communities from these advancements.

We also need to review the needs for upgrading and investing in long outdated infrastructure in rural America, resulting in lower energy costs and improvements to the resiliency, security, and efficiency of our rural electric coops and their systems in the face of new cybersecurity threats or dramatic weather events.

I’m looking forward to hearing from our panel of distinguished witnesses today, about all these opportunities and more. I now recognize the Ranking Member for any opening remarks he may have.

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