Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Some Green Programs, Gives Up On Farm Bill

In addition to extending the renewable energy production tax credit as part of the fiscal cliff deal, other green programs were extended or amended.

  • Credit for biofuel producers and property is extended to January 1, 2014, and now includes algae as a qualified feedstock.
  • Energy efficient homes, both new and renovated, as well as efficient appliances will continue to get tax credits through the end of the 2013.
  • Restores the commuter tax break for people that take public transportation.
  • Reinstates the biodiesel blenders tax credit, including a  retroactive credit for 2012.
  • Extends a tax credit for two- or three-wheeled plug-in electric vehicles, such as motorcycles, up to $2,500. 

What Happened to the Farm Bill

Congress failed to overhaul the Farm Bill last year and as part of the fiscal cliff deal, simply extended the current bill until next September. 

"The Farm Bill extension included in the fiscal cliff package is a disgrace. For half a year, the Senate and House debated versions of a new Farm Bill that would have made some progress toward eliminating subsidies for Big Ag and shifting incentives to healthy food and smart, sustainable farming practices. But Republican leadership copped out at the last second. Support for healthy farms became agricultural runoff, while massive commodity subsidies remain in place," says Justin Tatham, senior Washington representative for Union of Concerned Scientist’s Food & Environment Program.

"Incentives for fruit and vegetable production and much-needed programs that protect our air, water, and soil will now lose funding. The Farm Bill extension is a blow to farmers who want to grow healthy foods and the consumers who want to buy them," he says.

"The deal is blatantly anti-reform," Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, told Politico. "Many smaller, targeted programs to fund farm and food system reform and rural jobs … were left out completely."

"The message is unmistakable – direct commodity subsidies, despite high market prices, are sacrosanct, while the rest of agriculture and the rest of rural America can simply drop dead."

Agriculture is the third biggest contributor to global warming, accounting for about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. Financial support for commodity crops – wheat, rice, soybeans, cotton and (the really big one) corn –  contributes mightily to that. The bill, which should support organic farming and methods to improve carbon sequestration in healthy soils, continues to encourage the opposite.

Here is what the Union of Concerned Scientists propose:

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