October 19, 2012
On Friday, October 19, USDA announced that it is awarding $16 million in grant and loan awards in FY 2012 through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The award will fund 244 projects aimed at helping farmers, ranchers, and small businesses conserve energy and produce renewable energy.
In August of this year, USDA awarded $8.7 million through REAP. The latest announcement brings the total amount awarded through REAP in FY 2012 to $24.7 million, the amount designated for the program by Congress. You can download the latest list of awards here.
The new batch of awards includes over 80 energy efficiency upgrades for grain dryers and over 20 irrigation motor efficiency improvements, over 50 solar projects and nearly 50 wind projects, and 10 geothermal projects.
REAP in Jeopardy
Funding for REAP expired with the 2008 Farm Bill on October 1, 2012. If Congress wishes to see this important rural development and conservation program continue, it has two options. By far, the most preferable option is for Congress to pass a full 5-year reauthorization of the farm bill upon its return to Washington, D.C. in November. That bill should include renewed mandatory funding for REAP.
If, however, Congress is unable to finalize a full reauthorization before January, it may settle for an extension of current law. Any extension of the 2008 Farm Bill must include funding for a variety of critical programs, including REAP, that lost their baseline funding on October 1, 2012.
Without new mandatory funding in an extension, farmers and ranchers across the country will lose all access to these programs. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, allowing the current expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill to continue after the lame duck session is simply not an option. Too many programs upon which farmers, consumers, and environmental health depend would cease to function, a fate that should be unacceptable to those who care about our food, farm, energy, and environmental security.