Corvallis, Ore., Jan 29, 2013 -- In his keynote address yesterday at the 12th Annual Harvesting Clean Energy Conference in Corvallis, Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager highlighted the opportunity for a blossoming renewable energy industry to generate short and long term economic growth in rural America.
“The bioeconomy is one of the greatest sources of economic opportunity in rural places,” Tonsager said. “Biorefineries are by necessity located near feedstock production in rural parts of the US. This brings jobs and diversity to rural regional economies.”
USDA Rural Development administers a numerous energy programs designed to leverage private and public investments to support research and development, facilitate commercialization of renewable energy technologies, and reduce barriers and production costs. In this way, Tonsager said, “the federal government has an important role to play in supporting the development of renewable energy in rural America and increasing energy security.”
Over the last four years, these USDA Rural Development programs have helped support more than 6,600 renewable energy projects across the nation. As a result, approximately 25,000 rural small businesses, farmers, and ranchers saved or created more than 7.32 billion kWh, enough energy to power 680,000 American homes each year.
To build on these and other advancements, Tonsager called for the passage of a fully reauthorized Food, Farm and Jobs Bill in 2013.
After answering questions from a group of more than 200 representing a wide range of industries and sectors, Tonsager departed for Portland where he planned to lead a roundtable discussion with representatives from the business, technology, education, finance and state government sectors. The discussion is part of a nationwide dialog led by USDA Rural Development to advance public-private collaboration and innovative business and financing models for rural community and economic development.
For additional information on USDA Rural Development programs and projects, please visit Rural Development's 2012 Progress Report or the new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for the past four fiscal years. The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $176 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).