Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding grants for projects in all states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.
“Lowering energy costs helps rural businesses improve their bottom line and create jobs,” Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to increasing economic development in America’s rural communities through strong partnerships because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $9.3 million through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. USDA will make additional funding announcements in the REAP program in coming weeks.
Recipients can use REAP funding for a variety of needs, such as conducting energy audits and installing renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. Funds also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. Listed below are a few examples of how farmers, rural business owners and institutions are making investments in their operations through REAP.
• In Soldotna, Alaska, River City Books will use a $13,525 REAP grant to build a 15-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the roof of its bookstore. This project is expected to lower the store’s electricity costs by an estimated $3,800 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power 2.5 homes for a year.
• Copper Cricket Farm LLC in Machipongo, Va., will use an $8,172 grant to purchase and install a 11.06-kilowatt, roof-mounted solar array. The farm produces vegetables, fruits and flowers in Northampton County, Va. This project will make the farm energy self-sufficient.
• Tony Dwyer’s Logging LLC in St. Johnsbury, Vt., will use a $12,465 REAP grant to install a more efficient kiln drying system for a firewood producer. Tony Dwyer’s Logging produces high-quality, kiln-dried firewood. The new kiln, which will run on propane, will reduce the cost of processing a cord of wood by 40 percent.
• In Albany, Ore., Spring Hill Organic Farm will use a $10,915 REAP grant to purchase and install a renewable energy system. The farm raises a variety of organic vegetables for commercial resale. This project will generate more than 27,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity per year. The 25-kilowatt solar array will replace 39 percent of the farm's energy use and reduce its utility bill by more than $3,000 per year.
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.