April 5, 2022

Title IX of the Farm Bill: Energy

Farm Bill Blog Series (Part 4 of 5)
Holland & Knight Eyes on Washington Blog
Peter Tabor | Kayla Gebeck Carroll | Isabel C. Lane
U.S. Capitol Building

The 2023 Farm Bill is likely to be the fifth Farm Bill to include an energy title. The 2018 Farm Bill, set to expire on Sept. 30, 2023, includes an energy title (Title IX) that reauthorized eight energy programs and one initiative as well as created the new Carbon Utilization and Biogas Education Program. Title IX promotes the production of agriculture-related energy, or bioenergy, from agricultural or forestry feedstocks. Biofuels are the dominant form of bioenergy currently used in the U.S., with their use mandated via the Renewable Fuel Standard (established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, P.L. 109-58), which has also been mandated in separate legislation.

Title IX has been integral in facilitating research and development of agricultural and forestry feedstocks as fuel, as well as financing the commercial scale production of such energy resources. It is viewed as complementary to other energy policy initiatives, including the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the politics surrounding renewable fuel markets will be a factor in determining the size and scope of Title IX in the upcoming Farm Bill.

Although the current Farm Bill was enacted during a period of relatively low energy prices, coupled with robust U.S. production and supplies of energy and gas, the 2023 Farm Bill negotiations are taking place during a very uncertain time for global and U.S. energy production and supplies.

Another key factor as 2023 Farm Bill negotiations get underway is to what extent legislators want to use this legislation to address climate change. Commodity prices for edible biofuels feedstocks including corn and soybeans, currently at record highs, will also influence efforts to expand markets for these resources.

Commodity growers, traders, food companies and fuel companies all have an interest in the incentives that the next Farm Bill provides for agriculture-based energy production.

Factors Influencing Title IX of the 2023 Farm Bill

The 2023 Farm Bill is being negotiated as the United States and the world emerge from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and grapple with inflation due in part to surging energy prices, which have been exacerbated by a coordinated multinational effort to isolate Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. Many food producers are raising concerns with the increased competition they face for food inputs due to the demand for soybeans and corn as fuel inputs (renewable diesel and ethanol, respectively).

Finally, Farm Bill negotiations are taking place with a U.S. House of Representatives and Senate under Democratic party leadership, with a focus on addressing climate change and reducing the use of fossil fuels. The November midterm elections could hand control of the House and perhaps the Senate to Republicans, who tend to view domestic oil and gas production as critical to energy independence. Bioenergy is a uniquely regional issue, politically speaking, and policy designed to expand its production and use has proponents and opponents across both parties.

Holland & Knight's Farm Bill blog series will provide you with insight into what is in the package, emerging areas of interest at the federal level and how to ensure that your priorities are included in the final legislation. For more information on the 2023 Farm Bill and the latest information on Farm Bill negotiations, please contact the authors.

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