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USDA invests in energy efficiency improvements to help farmers, rural businesses, ag producers lower energy costs

Greg Thomas
Release Date

LEXINGTON, Ky., – Kentucky State Director for U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development Hilda Legg today announced $225,000 in grants to help reduce energy costs for farmers, agricultural producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

The 16 projects from across the commonwealth will be used for efficiency improvements like lighting upgrades, solar array systems, additional insulation, and upgraded equipment.

“Reducing energy costs helps rural businesses increase their net income and gives them more capital to reinvest back into their business and the local economy,” said Legg. “Small business is the backbone of the economy, and we’re extremely proud of the partnerships we’ve formed with our rural small businesses.”

Kentucky’s grants are part of a large list announced by Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding grants for projects in 49 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

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.”

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.

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.