November 8, 2013
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack has announced that 424 projects across the country will receive funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy system investments through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
REAP provides financial support, through grants and loan guarantees, to agricultural producers and rural small businesses looking to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. This round of recipients will receive a combined total of over $14 million in grants. The majority of the awards in this batch are going toward energy efficiency projects, though a significant number of solar, wind, and geothermal projects also received funding. There have been multiple batches of REAP award announcements this year; see for example this earlier post.
REAP’s Uncertain Fate
Unfortunately, REAP was one of the stranded USDA programs left without funding when the 2008 Farm Bill expired last year. Although USDA has been able to fund additional programs through carryover mandatory spending, those funds are dwindling. Both the Senate and House versions of the farm bill reauthorize REAP, but only the Senate bill provides mandatory funding for the program.
Congress must ensure that important programs like REAP continue to receive mandatory funding to help farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses conserve resources and contribute to our country’s production of renewable energy. Ideally, this will happen through by passing a full Farm Bill. However, if Congress is unable to pass a full bill, any farm bill extension must include continued authority and funding for REAP and the other critical programs hung to dry.
For more information on REAP, visit our Grassroots Guide.