“As a result of our biofuel industries, consumers across America are paying about $0.90, on average, less for gas than they would otherwise pay.  So it's a great opportunity for consumer choice, it's a job creator, and it improves income opportunities for farmers.

“Now, I recognize that the assistance we provide to this industry will likely be more targeted and more limited in the future; but we have momentum in many areas of the country to focus on nonfood feed stocks which will allow us to expand the production of advanced biofuels. I'm committed to working with Congress to build on that momentum.

“Just recently we announced an opportunity with the Department of the Navy and the Department of Energy to build a drop-in fuel for aviation from non-food feed stocks that will be grown and created in rural America.

“The Navy has agreed to purchase the fuel produced by biorefineries that we're going to help build. The commercial aviation industry is excited about this opportunity because this fuel will allow them not only to have more stable pricing, but also will enable them to deal with whatever greenhouse gas regulations may be imposed upon them by other countries in the future. This is an absolute opportunity for us to grow thousands and thousands of jobs in rural America.

“This is the type of program, this is the type of effort that needs to be continued.  That's why I'm hoping that Congress, as it looks at the farm bill, understands and appreciates the significance of the BCAP program and the REAP program, two programs that are continued -- worthy of continued investment.

“Just in 2009 and 2010 USDA invested in more than 22,000 renewable energy projects.  We're pursuing this next generation of advanced biofuels by helping communities and companies invest to build those biorefineries, we're funding regional research, and we're helping farmers to establish those biofuel crops. We're supporting the farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue those new opportunities, and we're helping to establish the infrastructure to put renewable fuel in all of America's gas tanks. Congress's effort has got to continue to offer strategic support to these important industries.

“Now, today, I believe very, very strongly, as I stand here today, in a bright future for American agriculture in rural America. In fact, for American agriculture, it's as bright as it can be. That's why this farm, food, jobs bill — whatever you'd like to call it — has got to build on the agricultural economy that we have today.

“We have to improve that economy with a strong safety net, a commitment to conservation, and a focus on market development; and this bill must also continue to provide for food assistance for families that are playing by the rules, working hard to provide for their families.

“And, finally, the bill has to give renewed life to rural America by leading our nation's effort to, once again, get back in the business of what's done here at this plant of making, creating, and innovating things that not only we need in this country, but the rest of the world wants and desires. That will allow us to export, helping to create jobs here in America.

“It's been a long time coming, but rural America's making a comeback, and Congress's important work on this bill will lead to a much brighter, more hopeful, and more optimistic future for rural America. And I'm here today to tell you that USDA stands ready to help.