Balanced Renewable Energy Policies Needed, Says AFT

American Farmland Trust (AFT) President Ralph Grossi, explains that “While there are many benefits to renewable fuels, increasing the production of fuel from a limited agricultural land base will inevitably create pressures on our land, water, air and wildlife habitat.”

AFT has written to the Senate and House leadership to suggest three ways in which Congress can address these pressures on agricultural land: — Ensure that any new mandates or incentives for additional biofuels production be accompanied by a dramatic increase in working lands conservation programs that help farmers grow feedstocks for renewable fuels while protecting the nation’s soil, water, air and wildlife. — Energy policies must spur energy efficiency and discourage waste. Reducing consumption of all forms of energy will reduce pressures on working lands and further reduce our nation’s reliance on imported oil. — To relieve the pressure on farmland from the booming ethanol and biodiesel industries, we must vigorously support the development of the next generation of biofuels. Many policy vehicles exist — such as increased research funding, loan guarantees, tax policies and renewable fuel mandates — that can be used to encourage this development. Whichever vehicles are used, the overall effects on our environment and our economy must be dually considered. “AFT will continue to work with Congress and renewable fuels stakeholders to craft a balanced and forward-thinking energy policy that truly achieves our nation’s economic, environmental and security goals while safeguarding our working farm and ranch lands and natural resources,” Grossi said. “We simply must maintain a strategic base of our best agricultural land and the viability of our agricultural sector with a new farm bill in 2007; it is essential to America’s long-term ability to produce food, fiber and energy,” he added.