USDA Addresses Energy Concerns

Earlier this week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was releasing nearly $30 million in energy grants and loans. The grants and loans are funded through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), authorized as a part of the 2008 Farm Bill. The goals of REAP are to offer money to farmers, ranchers, and small agricultural businesses to encourage the purchase and maintenance of renewable energy systems on farms.

The $30 million announced by Vilsack will be distributed to more than 500 projects nationwide, primarily to small farms, and are a major addition to more than 900 renewable energy programs currently funded by REAP.

The amount of money distributed by REAP is relatively small when compared to other federal grant programs. For example, a Kirkwood, Pennsylvania farm received $300,000 to install a digester system that will process animal manure into methane, which can be used to produce electricity. A New Hampshire company received over $100,000 to install solar energy systems as well as geothermal heating systems.

 In addition to helping individuals farmers, Vilsack noted that the goals of REAP are more far-reaching.  “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.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer