Skip to main content

Secretary's Column: Energy Efficiency and the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Energy Conservation
Aug 16, 2013

This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than 630 new projects across the country under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  These new projects will help producers and businesses boost their bottom line, while increasing America’s energy security and protecting our environment.

Energy efficiency programs are a key part of the President’s overall plan to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate, while building our renewable energy capacity to support an all-of-the-above approach to America’s energy future.

Under the Obama Administration, USDA has used this program to support more than 7,000 energy efficiency projects. Many of these provided assistance on small and medium-sized farm and ranches, or in rural businesses.

For example, USDA is providing a grant to a producer in Oklahoma who will leverage significant outside investment to install two 100kW wind turbines.  A grant in Washington will enable an orchard owner to install a solar hot water washing tank to clean apples for market.  And in Wisconsin, REAP will help a producer install an anaerobic digester that will create more than 4.8 million kWh of electricity a year while boosting environmental quality.

This program is a very good example of why Congress must achieve passage of a comprehensive, multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible.

In January, Congress provided an extension of some 2008 Farm Bill programs when there was no Congressional passage of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.  Now, in just a few weeks, that extension will expire – once again leaving rural America without access to Farm Bill programs.

USDA relies on the Farm Bill to carry out the Rural Energy for America Program and many other important efforts. Without a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, rural America will be without energy efficiency programs. America’s farmers and ranchers will be without a strong safety net and important conservation programs. We will lack trade programs to promote U.S. products, and the ability to invest in strong agricultural research. These are just a few of many examples.

This is too important for Congress to kick the can down the road with another short-term extension. We need the certainty of a comprehensive, long-term Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. USDA and folks across rural America are counting on Congress to advance this legislation as soon as possible.

For an audio version of this column, click here.
Category/Topic: Energy Conservation

Write a Response

CAPTCHA This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Aug 16, 2013

One option is being overlooked. This program is targeted toward individual loans. This would even be more advantageous if a business such as a private electrical company could work as the company proposing the energy saving opportunities to the ag business and tailor the options to their specific needs. Specialty electritions know what's available and what's suitable in the specific rural area.

Barry Marcus
Aug 16, 2013

What studies have been performed to analyze the environmental damage caused by erosion that results from fires on National Forest land? What studies have been performed that analyze the impact to endangered species habitat resulting from fires on NF land? Thank you