Capital Crime – Biomassive Energy Subsidies in Farm Bill

June 25, 2012 07:23

The farm bill [] has little to do with farming and a lot to do with handouts. Energy subsidies? The farm bill’s full of ‘em, particularly in the Title IX energy section, and they all need to go.



By Nicolas Loris at The Heritage Foundation


The farm bill, which passed in the Senate yesterday, has little to do with farming and a lot to do with handouts. Energy subsidies? The farm bill’s full of ‘em, particularly in the Title IX energy section, and they all need to go.

The legislation includes direct handouts and loan guarantees for advanced biofuels and bio-refineries, renewable chemicals, and bio-based product manufacturers. It also reauthorizes the Rural Energy for America Program, which “provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.” In other words, more wasteful green subsidies.

Also included in the bill are the Biomass Research and Development Initiative and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP is a handout to farmers and ranchers who produce biomass for heat, power, bio-based products, or biofuels. From the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website:

BCAP addresses a classic chicken-or-egg challenge around the start up of commercial scale bioenergy activities. If commercial-scale biomass facilities are to have sufficient feedstocks, then a large-scale energy crop must exist. Conversely, if profitable crop production is to occur, then viable consumers must exist to purchase the crop. Many bioenergy facilities need several years to reach commercial scale. BCAP serves as catalyst to unite these dynamics by reducing the financial risk for landowners who decide to grow unconventional crops for these new markets.

Good economic ideas overcome the chicken-and-egg program all the time without government assistance. It doesn’t matter how many cell phones you have if there’s no place to obtain a signal. But producers built cell phone towers and sold cell phones without a massive subsidy from Washington. The same can happen with biofuels if it’s an economically viable idea.

All of these handouts are wasteful and unnecessary. We have a robust, diverse energy market that can supply consumers with affordable and reliable energy without the taxpayers’ help. The subsidies are also a product of trying to bail out another disastrous policy: the Renewable Fuel Standard, which mandates production of 36 billion gallons of biofuels (21 billion gallons of that being non-cornstarch) by 2022.

When President Bush signed the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, the law mandated that 500 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol be produced in the year 2012. Thus far, zero gallons have been produced, because no companies have been able to produce commercially viable cellulosic ethanol. Because of the government’s inability to predict what the market will produce, the government is handing out even more money in a failed attempt to generate a market.

Another program, the Rural Energy Savings Program (Section 6202), provides loans for energy efficiency investments. Businesses do not need public investment to improve efficiency and cut costs; they make those investments regularly with their own money. Technological advancements do often improve efficiency, but those investments should not be subsidized by the taxpayer, much less selected by Washington bureaucrats.

Senator Pat Toomey (R–PA) offered an amendment to repeal the Biorefinery Assistance Program, but the Senate defeated the amendment 33–63. While the farm bill needs much fixing, from an energy standpoint, Congress should repeal all of Title IX from the farm bill as well as the Rural Energy Savings Program.


Nicolas Loris is a Policy Analyst at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Loris studies energy, environment and regulation issues such as the economic impacts of climate change legislation, a free market approach to nuclear energy and the effects of environmental policy on energy prices and the economy.


Editor’s note: The reason we can’t get rid of this insane spending is that many legislators and their friends, families and supporters get millions of dollars in these schemes.


Hundreds of thousands of dollars and in some cases millions have ended up in the pockets of the congressmen who vote to continue the farm subsidies. Isn’t this criminal? If its not it should be. EWG has the story.

From Environmental Working Group


Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.)

Aderholt’s wife, Caroline, is part of the ownership of McDonald Farms, which received $3,059,878 in federal farm subsidies in 1995-2009.

Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.)
Fincher is listed as directly receiving $114,519 from USDA. Fincher’s farm, Stephen & Lynn Fincher Farms, is also in the database for 1995-1999, receiving $3,254,324 in farm subsidies 1999-2009.  Fincher and his wife Lynn are each 50 percent partners in the farm. EWG’s estimate of farm subsidies paid to Fincher and his wife is $3,368,843 between 1995 and 2009.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.)
Hartzler is listed in the EWG Farm Subsidy Database but received no money. Her husband, Lowell Hartzler, is listed as a 98 percent owner of Hartzler Farms, which received $774,489 in 1995-2009.

Rep. Timothy Huelskamp (R-Kansas)

This farm is likely owned by his parents, Leroy and Estelle Huelskamp. H&H Farms received $1,169,499 in federal farm subsidies in 1995-2009.

Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa)

EWG’s estimate of farm subsidies paid to Latham, using the percentage share information provided to USDA, is $330,046 in 1995-2009.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.)
Stutzman is listed as directly receiving $179,370 in subsidies in 1997-2009. His financial disclosure forms for 2009 list Stutzman Farms as generating a salary of $48,985.



Help Make A Difference By Sharing These Articles On Facebook, Twitter And Elsewhere:

Interested In Further Reading? Click Here