Washington, D.C., Sep 16, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced loans and grants for more than 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in their operations.
“This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration’s plan to help the nation’s farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses conserve natural resources, create more green jobs and lead us on the path to becoming an energy independent nation,” Vilsack said. “These projects are in addition to the more than 900 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects recently announced during the President’s Rural Economic Forum.”
The grants and loan guarantees 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 today more than $27 million in energy grants and guaranteed loans for projects.
The REAP program is helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses in Montana reduce energy consumption. Four Montana projects were funded in today’s announcement:
• In Whitefish, Mont., Midway Mini-Mart will receive funding to install a small wind turbine and solar panels to generate energy to power the convenience store.
• Schutter Brothers Farms in Manhattan, Mont. will use REAP funding to add a geothermal heating and cooling system for a farm equipment maintenance building
• Simms Fishing Products of Bozeman, Mont. plans to install a solar panel array on their manufacturing headquarters in Bozeman to offset energy consumption from the local power grid.
• Big Sky Colony in Cut Bank, Mont. will install a new energy-efficient boiler system in their hog operation.
Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan 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 recipients announced today, 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.