This month a bipartisan group of legislators introduced into Congress the Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 (H.R. 5373), a bill that would give algae cultivators and harvesters many of the same advantages as other traditional crops in United States agricultural policy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a number of tools to support American farmers, but large-scale algae farming has traditionally been viewed as outside of the agriculture mainstream. However, with a growing number of algae-based food products and agricultural services now possible, the time has come for more robust policy support of this emerging sector. ABO’s press release has more information, and comments from the board and executive director Matt Carr.
The Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 establishes a number of provisions to promote the expansion of algae farming in communities across the United States:
New support for algae research and development in agriculture: The bill helps level the playing field for algae with respect to other crops by updating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to include algae and its applications in agriculture, as well as the Foundation for Food and Agriculture, a nonprofit research institute that studies the economic and environmental resilience of our food supply. The bill also authorizes studies on algae cultivation’s potential for ecosystem support, nutrient management and soil heath, rural manufacturing and energy, and other ways to deploy algae as an agricultural solution.
Support for carbon utilization projects in rural communities: Under the new legislation, rural electric cooperatives would have explicit eligibility for Carbon Capture and Use (CUU) projects that take advantage of algae’s unique ability to generate revenue while also absorbing massive quantities of carbon dioxide. This support comes on the heels of language in the recent budget agreement that provides a new $35 per ton tax incentive for carbon captured and recycled from power plants or industrial facilities using algae or other biologically-based systems.
Crop disaster assistance for algae cultivation: Algae farmers would also be eligible for a USDA benefit many crops have had for decades: financial assistance when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters.
The bill was introduced by Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) and sponsored by a diverse, bipartisan group of Congressmen: Andy Biggs (R-AZ-5), Derek Kilmer (D-WA-6) and Darin LaHood (R-IL-18).
The next step is to get the Algae Agriculture Act included in the upcoming Farm Bill. Be sure to contact your Congressional delegation and ask that they become sponsors of the Algae Agriculture Act!