I am no expert on the intricacies of the farm bill, but it will have a huge impact on climate. Fortunately the Center for American Progress does have an expert, Jake Caldwell. He has written a great piece, “A New Farm Bill: The Work is Not Finished.” I will excerpt the energy-related parts:
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the Senate Agriculture and Senate Finance Committees have done a commendable job so far preparing for the next generation of cellulosic biofuels–liquid fuels sustainably produced from energy crops such as switchgrass and agricultural wastes such as corn stalks and rice hulls. The Senate bill increases funding for farmers growing new biofuel feedstocks in a sustainable manner. It also provides significant provisions for increasing research and development by bolstering financial incentives for new cellulosic biofuel refineries and increasing funding that would allow biorefineries to purchase and transport diverse biofuel feedstocks.
The Energy Title of the Senate Farm Bill also provides for the use of transparent certification and labeling criteria to encourage sustainable production of biofuels through the innovative “Voluntary Renewable Biomass Certification Program.” An investment in advanced biofuels must be accompanied by enhanced environmental safeguards and incentives for biofuel producers to conserve land and water resources, maximize lifecycle greenhouse gas emission reductions and the low carbon characteristics of fuels, and grow energy crops in a sustainable manner.
What is the farm bill missing, energy-wise?
Promoting Sustainable Biofuel Production. The Farm Bill’s investment in advanced biofuels must be accompanied by enhanced environmental safeguards. This means incentives for biofuel producers to protect our nation’s land, air, and water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions with low carbon performance-based advanced fuels. The primary goals of land currently enrolled in Farm Bill conservation programs should not be compromised for the sake of biofuel production. Biofuel crops can be produced in a sustainable manner. The use of transparent certification and labeling criteria to encourage sustainable production of biofuels, such as the “Voluntary Renewable Biomass Certification Program,” should therefore be implemented immediately. And farmers must have a central role in this effort.