Atkinson, IL, Aug 17, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced grants for more than 900 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in their operations. Eleven Montana projects were announced. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement as part of President Obama’s rural economic bus tour in the Midwest where today he highlighted efforts underway to reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil, which will increase the economic competitiveness of rural America and promote job creation.
"These investments enable our farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners to develop renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements that will save them thousands of dollars in energy costs each year," Vilsack said. "This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration's plan to conserve natural resources, create jobs and lead our country on the path to becoming more energy independent."
“These grants will help Montana producers save big bucks on energy costs, freeing up savings to invest back into Montana family farms, ranches and jobs. And helping farmers get cheaper fuel also supports new jobs producing home-grown energy that won’t run out,” said Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus, who helped create the REAP program in the Farm Bill.
Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester said “Small businesses across rural Montana continue to be recognized for their ability to create jobs and get our economy back on track. Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will not only help Montana’s small businesses lower energy costs, but also increase rural America’s economic competitiveness. Focusing on these kinds of smart investments will grow our economy and lead to energy independence.”
The grants are being provided through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a 2008 Farm Bill initiative. REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for small businesses. In all, USDA announced more than $11.6 million in energy grants today, $113,414 of that in Montana.
The REAP program is helping many agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption. For example, two businesses in Jordan and a car wash in Hamilton will install geothermal heating systems; Molt and Hardin-area ranchers will power water pumps with solar; and businesses in Kalispell, Stanford, and Columbia Falls will upgrade to energy-efficient equipment for their operations.
Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project's cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables, $250,000 for efficiency. For a complete listing of Rural Energy for America Program grant recipients announced today in Montana and across the nation, please click here.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.