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USDA RD State Director Highlights Investments in North Dakota Producers and Rural Small Businesses to Celebrate Earth Week

Chris Freeman
Release Date

BISMARCK, N.D., April 18, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Erin Oban hosted a panel discussion of North Dakotans recently awarded the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant funds to commemorate Earth Day and highlight ways USDA Rural Development provides practical opportunities for rural individuals and small businesses to increase efficiencies, save money, and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Oban was joined by the following North Dakotans, who shared information about recent projects supported with grant funds awarded by the USDA Rural Development REAP, which provides assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency improvements or to purchase a renewable energy system for operations:

  • Andrea Sand with Lisbon Veterinary Services, who installed a geothermal HVAC system on her small business in Lisbon, North Dakota.
  • Benjamin James of Benjamin James Farms, who installed a solar array on his farm operation near Kenmare, North Dakota; and
  • Jay and Joel Mitchell of Mitchell Farms, who installed a more efficient grain dryer on his farm operation near Erie, North Dakota.

“Earth Day isn’t just a poster contest we participate in as elementary-aged students. This day has long celebrated the many ways, large or small, we each can take in better caring for the land, air, and water resources that sustains our quality of life and economies in North Dakota,” said Oban. “We appreciate the opportunity to highlight local successes experienced by our rural neighbors and fellow North Dakotans who are willing to work alongside federal partners like USDA Rural Development and access federal programs like REAP to achieve their goals. We are here to help more North Dakota farmers, ranchers, and rural small business owners to invest in their own operations to modernize, increase efficiencies, and reduce energy costs. The fact that these investments also improve the environment further those impacts in ways that benefit us all.”

Through the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA Rural Development has further expanded opportunities available to North Dakotans and rural Americans through REAP and will also administer programs representing the largest single investment in rural electrification since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. These Electric Programs will dedicate new funding and provide unprecedented incentives to transform rural power production, fund renewable energy systems, zero-emission systems, and carbon capture systems, create and sustain good-paying jobs, and spur economic growth in our rural communities.

About USDA Rural Development

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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