Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the availability of loans and grants for more than 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country to help implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
“This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration’s plan to help the nation’s farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses conserve natural resources, create more green jobs and lead us on the path to becoming an energy independent nation,” Vilsack says. “These projects are in addition to the more than 900 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects recently announced during the President’s Rural Economic Forum.”
The grants and loan guarantees are being provided through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a 2008 Farm Bill initiative. REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for small businesses. In all, USDA announced more than $27 million in energy grants and guaranteed loans for projects.
Reducing Energy Costs
The REAP program is helping many agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption. For example, in Kirkwood, Pa., Jay Clifford Sensenig was selected to receive a $309,733 grant to install a co-op digester system that will process annually more than 16,800 tons of dairy, hog and chicken manure from four farms into methane gas, creating more than 879,000 kilowatts per year of electricity.
In addition, the digester system is designed to accept and process food waste. The host farm uses 232,000 kilowatts annually, then the excess energy produced from the digester will be sold to the local utility.
In Beaver Dam, Wis., United Cooperative was selected to receive a $448,500 grant to help with the installation cost of 33 ethanol flex-fuel dispensers and 17 biodiesel dispensers. United Cooperative is a full-service cooperative that offers feed, grain, agronomy and energy products to south-central Wisconsin farmers and consumers.
The Obama Administration has set a goal of making 10,000 new flex-fuel pumps available to America’s drivers within the next five years – a five-fold increase from today’s level.
USDA is working to support the research, investment and infrastructure necessary to build a nationwide biofuels industry that creates jobs in every corner of the country.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration also has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas and providing affordable health care.
In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.
USDA’s Communications Office provided information for this article. For more details, go to www.usda.gov.