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Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 1:30pm

A Rural Energy Assistance Program Could Face Budget Cuts

Congressional budget cutters are targeting an energy assistance program for farmers.
The Rural Energy for America program helps Georgia farmers retrofit equipment to cut fuel costs.

A House Agriculture sub-committee last week voted to cut funding for the program altogether. Since it began in 2003 it’s given Georgia farmers and small businesses more than 6-million dollars.

John Bonitz with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says it’s helped poultry growers upgrade chicken houses and row crop farmers replace diesel irrigation motors.

“I know this program helps farmers. It boosts the rural economy. It cuts air pollution. It improves our energy security and to cut it is just so short sighted.”

The House proposal also would cut a biomass program that gives farmers incentives to grow crops that produce fuel. The cuts are part of the 2012 Farm Bill that now heads to the full Agriculture Committee.