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rural energy for america

October is National Co-Op Month

Happy National Co-Op Month! It’s reason to celebrate because in America there are more than 40,000 cooperatives of all types, supporting jobs that provide more than $25 billion in wages. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin (PDF, 2.7 MB), funded in part by USDA, cooperatives have an estimated 350 million members. (Many people belong to more than one cooperative.)

See How Clean Rural Energy is Growing North Carolina, and the Nation

In the last fiscal year, USDA Rural Development invested over $240 million in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation. Through our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) we have changed the face of clean energy in our rural communities by promoting energy efficiency in rural small businesses and agricultural operations and the development of renewable energy sources in and around these small communities.

The renewable energy component has expanded both small and large-scale clean energy development in a number of sectors including geothermal, solar, wind, hydropower, and biofuels. Utilizing resources already available in our rural areas whether it's sun and wind, or water and agricultural waste, USDA in partnership with local lenders has been able to provide the financial underpinnings to grow hundreds of renewable energy projects.

USDA Official Highlights Federal Programs That Help Create Jobs, Provide Access to Capital in Washington and Oregon

“Show me the money.”  You have heard that phrase, right? Made famous by the 1996 film  Jerry Maguire, we have all probably heard it said a thousand times, and yet, the phrase remains just as valid today.

Owners of rural businesses are asking the same question because finding capital is a major challenge for those who wish to grow and expand, and Lillian Salerno, USDA’s top business development official, met with various business leaders and owners in the Pacific Northwest to offer assistance on job creation and economic growth efforts.

Renewable Energy Opportunities Discussed at Agriculture Outlook Forum

Speaking before a capacity crowd this morning at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, a distinguished panel representing three federal agencies and a member of the agricultural media discussed Federal renewable energy policy and its prospects to reduce consumption of imported oil, improve environmental quality and produce new jobs in rural America.

Vermont Lenders and Service Providers Learn about Access to Capital for Farms and Food

Access to capital for farm and food businesses was the focus of a two-day workshop in December sponsored by the Vermont Farm Viability Program and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. The event was supported by the Vermont Agriculture Innovation Center which provides technical assistance to small value added food businesses and producers through a USDA Agriculture Innovation Grant to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

USDA Rural Energy for America Program Helps A Pennsylvania Farm Produce Solar Energy

I recently joined David Fink, at his Heidel Hollow Farm in Germansville. The family-owned, 1600 crop acre hay farm was awarded two USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants totaling $231,230. The grants will be used toward a solar energy project that will provide approximately 252,869 KW of electricity used in the hay compressing operation of the farm. David will also be able to replace one diesel engine with five electric motors, saving over 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.  Both projects will significantly reduce the farm’s energy costs.