The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Vermont Rural Development office today announced that Does’ Leap Farm is receiving a grant for $8,049 that will be used to install a ground-mounted 12.4kW solar array. Does’ Leap is an innovative, diversified organic farm specializing in a variety of fresh and aged goat cheeses in Fairfield, Vermont. Does’ Leap Farm will alleviate overhead by generating 100 percent of the farm’s current electrical needs with the new array.
“Many rural small business owners need support to incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations,” said Anthony Linardos, USDA Rural Development Vermont State Director. “USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program helps businesses, like Does’ Leap Farm, to become more energy independent and reduce costs for their businesses.”
This announcement comes as a part of Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley’s national announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers, and rural-based businesses and institutions.
USDA is providing these grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in the coming weeks.
Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, and solar. They also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration, for example.
Here are examples of how some of the other recipients will use their grants:
In Utah, Kent Kelly & Associates LC will use a $19,920 grant to replace three refrigeration unit compressors and computer controls with more energy-efficient models. This project is expected to save the company $3,467 per year and lower consumption by 53,280 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The company leases retail space to a grocery store in Brigham City, Utah.
Treat’s Squire Shop in Plymouth, Ind., is receiving a $1,500 grant to install LED lighting throughout the building. The firm sells men’s clothing and bridal attire. This project will lower energy costs by $4,081 and reduce energy use by 54,911 kWh (76 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power five homes.
The University of Oregon will use a $100,000 grant to help rural agritourism operations and small businesses implement renewable energy systems. Working under a contract with the nonprofit Spark Northwest, the university will help install solar photovoltaic, wind, small hydro, biodigester and solar thermal renewable energy systems. Overall, this project will help approximately 40 rural businesses, primarily in the ag sector, reduce their monthly utility bills.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.