Charlotte, N.C., May 05, 2014 -- USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno joined Rural Development State Director Randy Gore today to visit Phillips Poultry Farm, a minority-owned rural business in Monroe, N.C., that received grant assistance from USDA for energy efficiency improvements.
"USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program continues to help farmers and rural businesses make their operations more energy efficient and reduce their rate of energy consumption,” Salerno said. “The savings they realize in their energy costs helps improve their businesses’ bottom lines.”
USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loans and grants to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, renewable energy development and energy audits. Up to 25 percent of eligible project costs can be funded through a grant, and additional support can be provided in the form of a loan guarantee. Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped fund nearly 8,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.
Derek Phillips, owner of Phillips Poultry Farm, received a $40,000 REAP grant from USDA for sidewall enclosures and additional insulation for the operation’s poultry houses. The improvements reduced the farm’s energy and fuel costs by 50 percent.
In the small rural community of Monroe, 25 percent of residents are African American, and 11 percent of African Americans own their own businesses. Phillips, like many of his neighbors in the community, is an African American business owner. The REAP program is one of a suite of tools that USDA Rural Development has available to help rural businessmen and businesswomen improve or expand operations and otherwise increase their profits.
Adminstrator Salerno also visited Battleground Solar Farm in Kings Mountain, N.C. USDA provided a loan guarantee to FLS Energy to help finance the solar farm, a 12.2 MW solar power facility with ground-mounted solar arrays at five locations. The solar farm produces 17.2 million MW of electricity per year.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, health, education, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. In Fiscal Year 2013, the agency invested more than $1.6 billion in rural North Carolina through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants. USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $198 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
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 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 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., S.W., 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).