Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is providing loans and grants for over 500 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to help farmers, ranchers and owners of rural businesses reduce energy costs and develop new sources of renewable energy.
Funding is provided through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager made the announcement on behalf of the Secretary.
"These loans and grants will generate and save energy for the nation's farmers and rural small businesses for decades to come," Vilsack said. "The funding will help replace outdated equipment, such as old, inefficient grain dryers, insulate buildings, allow recipients to obtain energy audits and incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations so they can compete in the 21st Century global economy."
USDA is awarding more than $30 million in loans and grants to the 516 recipients.
For example, in Warwick, Mass., Mark and Jeanette Fellows were selected to receive a $14,000 grant to help fund a 8.36 kW photovoltaic system that will offset over 30 percent of their dairy farm's energy usage. In Salina, Kan., PKM Steel Service, Inc. was selected to receive a $41,000 grant to install energy efficient air compressors, boilers, temperature and lighting controls.
Hundreds of rural businesses and farmers across the nation have benefited from the REAP program. For example, Keith Alverson, a South Dakota farmer, received a $65,305 guaranteed loan and a $32,652 grant earlier this year to purchase a new grain dryer and make energy efficiency improvements to his farm in Chester. The dryer will have a 35 percent larger drying capacity, deliver corn to the storage bins at a temperature and moisture level suitable for storage, reduce heat loss by two-thirds and cut the amount of dust emission.
REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. More information on the REAP program is at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapResEei.html .
The program was authorized in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. Please click here  for a complete list of REAP recipients announced on Nov. 9.
Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and nearly 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.