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USDA Helps Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date

Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding six grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for projects throughout Minnesota to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

   “By reducing energy costs, renewable energy helps to open up opportunities for improvement elsewhere, like creating jobs,” Finstad said. “USDA is committed to increasing economic development for rural small businesses, ag producers, and entrepreneurs through a multitude of programs and with the help of strong, strategic partnerships throughout the state.”

   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 recipients will use their grants:

  • Barry Walsh will use a $15,000 grant to purchase and install a 46-kilowatt (kW) roof-mounted solar system. This project is expected to save the Walsh family-owned farm $6,358 per year and lower consumption by 60,369 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year (88 percent).

  • Triple C. Feeders, LLC will use a $12,500 grant to make energy efficiency improvements with the purchase and installation of a grain dryer. Triple C. Feeders is a grain farm that also raises cattle in rural Balaton, MN. This project will save $7,744 per year, replacing 180,925 kWh per year – which is enough energy to power 16 homes.

    Tyler Hanson will use a $10,000 grant to purchase and install a 42-kW ground solar system. Overall, this project will help the family-owned farm with swine finishing barns, save $10,420 per year and will replace 78,658 kWh per year. This is enough electricity to power seven homes.

  • Jon Eversman will use a $17,499 grant to purchase and install a 42-kW ground solar array. This project is expected to help this ag producer replace 83 percent of electrical energy used per year (80,891 kWh) and save $8,040 per year.

  • Evan Wilson will use an $11,000 grant to purchase and install a grain dryer. This small family farm in Willmar, MN is expected to save $6,214 per year and reduce consumption by 163,369-kWh (51 percent) per year, enough electricity to power 15 homes.

  • Bruce Turner, a small family-owned farm in Stewartville, MN will use a $6,800 grant to purchase an install a new grain dryer. This project will save the farm $5,641 per year and replace 99,699 kWh of electricity per year, enough energy to power nine homes.

   Finstad’s announcement is in coordination with the recent investments announced by Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley that USDA is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to help lower energy costs. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under these announcements, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.

   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/mn.