|Feb 01, 2014 --
California's 21st congressional district is home to a variety of agriculture producers, such as Visser & Sons Dairy in Riverdale, Calif. and Kroeker Agricultural Producers in Shafter, Calif. Both producers were looking to create efficiencies with their operations, but in different ways. Visser & Son's Dairy had a lighting system which was responsible for over 238 million btu’s worth of energy production, equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gas generated by over 260,000 cars. And Kroeker Agricultural Producers faced extremely high and environmentally burdening cost associated with their water well operations, something very familiar with many producers across drought-stricken California.
USDA Rural Development was able to assist the two producers through the Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP). A $3,181 REAP grant helped Kroeker Agricultural Producers install solar panels, and a $19,000 REAP grant helped Visser & Sons Dairy implement an energy efficient lighting system.
With help from Rural Development's REAP grants, both businesses have benefitted from reduced costs associated with their new energy projects. Cost savings are crucial to the success of many small producers like Visser & Sons Dairy and Kroeker Agricultural Producers, especially as many struggle with other economic pressures related to drought conditions. But some of the more notable benefits are those to the environment. These projects will help reduce an estimated 972 tons of greenhouse gasses in the 21st district alone. It would take nearly 6,700 acres of forest an entire year to sequester this same amount of carbon. This is equal to the amount of carbon sequestered by nearly 6,700 acres of forest for an entire year.