Montpelier, Vermont, May 05, 2014 -- United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday announced that USDA is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems.
"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," said USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady. "This funding will help farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent."
The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Investments from programs like REAP help support the engine of America’s economic growth – a thriving middle class. REAP is one of many USDA programs and initiatives to support an expanded domestic energy economy. In addition to helping to increase renewable energy production, USDA makes investments in the bioeconomy, provides support for the emerging biobased products industry, supports new technologies, and supports energy efficiency improvements.
Vermont farmers and small businesses have benefited substantially from the USDA REAP program. Rodney Bushey Jr. of East Fairfield used a $12,002 REAP grant to help increase energy efficiency in maple syrup production. Bushey teamed up with USDA Rural Development to fund the installation of a reverse osmosis system that reduced the amount of fuel oil he had to burn while boiling sap into maple syrup. The installation of the reverse osmosis system and membranes has increased efficiency in maple syrup production and reduced oil consumption by an estimated 2,657 gallons per year.
Created by the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill. For fiscal year (FY) 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees. Additional REAP funds provided by the Farm Bill will be made available with a subsequent notice.
USDA is accepting applications for:
· Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantee and grant combinations;
· Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees; and
· Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants.
Requests for grants may not exceed 25 percent of a project’s cost – either for stand-alone grant requests or for grants combined with loan guarantees.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has supported more than 8,200 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. During this period, USDA has provided more than $264 million in grants and $212 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.
This REAP funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilize our nation’s natural resources.
Information on how to apply for REAP funding and on the application deadlines (which vary by project type) is available on page 25565 of the May 5, 2014 Federal Register. http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2014/05/0079.xml&contentidonly=true
Vermonter small businesses and farmers may contact Cheryl Ducharme at (802) 828-6083 for more information.
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.
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