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Farm Energy Boosted with Efficiency Projects

19 August 2013

US - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for 631 projects across the nation - including 45 in North Carolina - that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects.

Grant and loan funding is made available through the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorised by the 2008 Farm Bill.

With this announcement, USDA is making investments of more than $21 million in energy projects nationwide. Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.

"As part of the Obama Administration's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, USDA continues to work with America's farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line," Secretary Vilsack said.

"This program and others like it would not be available without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and again I urge members of Congress to pass a bill when they return to Washington next month."

REAP helps producers reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. For example:

  • The Tate Family Farm in Climax, N.C., will use a $7,403 grant to install an energy-efficient geothermal system.
  • Yarbro Farms in Lawndale, N.C., was awarded a $15,624 grant to make lighting, heating and insulation improvements to four poultry houses.
  • Butler Farms in Lillington, N.C., was selected to receive a $16,250 grant to upgrade an anaerobic digester system to produce electricity from the farm's waste stream.

Farmers, ranchers, business owners and agriculture producers in 41 other states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will also receive funding. For example, Iron Mountain Nursery in Stagecoach, Nev., will use a $12,476 grant to install a 7 kW solar photovoltaic system to provide power for its farm and nursery. This project is expected to generate 13,000 kW of energy annually.

Finca Gonzalez, a fruit and vegetable farmer in Lajas, Puerto Rico, will use a $20,000 grant to install a 23 kW photovoltaic system to replace 97 percent of the farm's energy consumption.

Under the terms of REAP, up to 25 per cent of an eligible energy production or conservation project can be funded through a grant, and additional support can be provided in the form of a loan. Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped fund nearly 7,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.

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