Renewable Energy from Farms
As a nation, the United States is beginning to respond to significant energy and climate problems. In farm states growing corn and soybeans, great excitement is expressed in increasing renewable energy production through corn ethanol and soy-diesel. However, many recognize that this must not come about at the expense of rural communities and the environment.
In the Energy Title of the Farm Bill, programs and incentives should ensure that renewable energy industries like ethanol and other bio-refineries will benefit family farmers and rural communities while also safeguarding soil, water and biodiversity.
To achieve these social and environmental goals, the Farm Bill should not only include provisions that promote domestic production of biofuel crops, but also foster local ownership in processing facilities to benefit local economic development. Equally important, bioenergy policies must encourage sustainable practices of agricultural production to ensure long-term ecological integrity for future generations of farmers.
CRL joins with those who advocate these key programs and policies:
1) Energy conservation – actually cutting energy consumption – through efficient practices in farming systems and livestock operations. Minimizing fossil fuel use should be the first goal for all of us, urban and rural.
2) Adoption of “pro-family farmer/pro-environment” standards that are based on local production, local ownership and sustainable practices.
3) Funding support for new farmer co-op and community-owned biorefineries, while simultaneously placing caps on public financing for mega-sized or absentee processing plants.
4) Funding and technical assistance for sustainable energy crop and on-farm energy production.
5) Increase research and development funds, including pilot projects, for conversion processes from alternative crops/biomass, enzymes and alternative process energy generation.