Columbus, Ind., October 25, 2010 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced that USDA is providing loan guarantees and grants to allow agricultural producers and business owners across Indiana to increase the energy efficiency of their operations. She made the announcement during a tour of the Columbus area farm of Richard O'Neal, one of 52 Indiana producers and business owners selected to receive funding through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
"These awards will improve the energy efficiency of Indiana's farmers and business, making them more competitive in the global marketplace," Merrigan said. "The funds will help the recipients replace outdated equipment, increase profitability and create new opportunities for jobs and economic growth."
The nearly $2 million in funding announced today is authorized through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) and is administered by USDA Rural Development.
Merrigan said a number of farm operators have been selected to receive REAP funding to replace grain dryers with new, high efficiency units. Business owners will also benefit. A campground in Lafayette, for example, has been selected to receive a $17,000 REAP grant to install solar panels to reduce the campground's energy costs by 50 percent.
Hundreds of rural businesses and farmers in Indiana have benefited from the REAP program during the past few years. Michael Cadwallader received a $43,000 REAP grant earlier this year to purchase a new grain dryer and make energy efficiency improvements to his farm in Lucerne. Cadwallader installed a new storage bin, a new air system, a new dryer and upgraded the electrical system to process the estimated 1,000 acres of corn he harvests each year. Cadwallader expects the energy cost reduction will save him about 10 cents a bushel.
REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. More information on the REAP program is available at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapResEei.html.
Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. For a complete list of REAP recipients announced today, click here.
Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.