On Wednesday at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development Tom Dorr announced that USDA will be awarding more than 640 loans, grants and loan grant combinations in the amount of $35 million under the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program. This program, which is administered by USDA Rural Development has been part of the farm bill since the 2002 Farm Bill and was extended by the 2008 Farm Bill.
"It is a very unique part of the Farm Bill and part of what USDA does," Dorr says. "These go to a wide array of rural citizens including rural businesses, small businesses, homeowners as well as farmers and producers."
Nearly 25% of the awards are being made in Iowa, and Dorr says Nebraska has a history of success in this program, as does Minnesota. However this year many new states and programs enjoyed large success.
USDA Under Secretary of Rural Development Tom Dorr announced $35 million in energy grants and loans at the Farm Progress Show.
"This year we made 17 awards for geo-thermal heating systems that are being used for industrial and livestock heating purposes," Dorr says. "These have a 50% efficiency gain rate. That's really rather dramatic and it's not a traditional heating and energy source that's been historically used in rural America, particularly in grain and livestock operations and by doing this what it does is foster the build out of a new industry."
Wind energy is another technology that many of the grants and loans are going toward. Dorr also pointed out that none of the grants or loans covered more than 50% of the cost of the projects, and that the recipients have a significant investment in these operations.
"These are unique new economic development opportunities," Dorr says. "They are largely predicated on people at the local level who seize an opportunity, understand its potential, and because we have access to some resources to help them foster the development of this."