Budzinski introduces bill to update USDA loan guarantee program

By Erin Voegele | November 16, 2023

Reps. Nikki Budzinski, D-Ill., and Zach, Nunn, R-Iowa, on Nov. 15 announced the introduction of a bill that aims to update the USDA’s Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Products Assistance loan guarantee program. Companion legislation was introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kans., earlier this year. 

The legislation, titled the Agricultural Biorefinery Innovation and Opportunity (Ag BIO) Act, aims to enhance the ability of the program to support the development of biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased products. 

Specifically, the Ag BIO Act would create a grant with the existing program to support the construction and expansion of new or existing biorefineries. It would also expend the types of biofuels that are eligible for funding, including ultra-low carbon biobased ethanol and zero-carbon ethanol. In addition, the bill would help eliminate bureaucratic red tape that is impeding access to the funding, including a requirement for duplicative feasibility studies on already proven and commercially available technologies. 

To ensure the program has sufficient funding to meet increased demand with these changes, the Ag BIO Act also increases funding for the grant and loan program to $100 million annually over five years. 

“The University of Illinois is a national leader in biomanufacturing and is the proud home to the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Lab – where students and faculty drive world-class innovation every day,” Budzinski said. “I’m proud to join my friend and colleague, Zach Nunn, to introduce bipartisan legislation supporting the critical agricultural research happening at places like my alma mater. By investing in our bioeconomy, we can spur innovation and expand markets for family farmers throughout the Heartland.”   

“The biofuels industry drives Iowa’s economy and is critical to our nation’s energy security,” said Nunn said. “The bipartisan Ag BIO Act will eliminate bureaucratic red tape that is driving up energy costs by making it harder for biofuels producers to innovate and expand their manufacturing capacity.”