By: Micahel M, Blogger, Yellowlite, Inc.
The United States Department of Agriculture is charged with implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in February and is to remain in effect through 2018. The Farm Bill’s largest and by far most controversial component is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known by all as “food stamps”. SNAP accounts for 80 percent of the 2014 Farm Bill’s provisions and expenses and does indeed deservedly reap the bulk of any attention that American’s pay to the 2014 Farm Bill.
There are however other aspects of the law that deserve a bit of recognition as well.
One such provision is the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The REAP Program helps farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners incorporate energy efficiency measures and renewable energy such as solar photovoltaics and wind power generators. This program is helping to expand our energy economy to the tune of over $70 million in 2014. The REAP program provides quality high paying jobs in rural communities and helps to reduce the amount of money being sent from the community to the utility. Considering how much rural America provides the REAP Program is an important but mostly unheard of ways that the U.S. works toward giving something back to those who provide America’s agricultural needs.
To be eligible to take advantage of a REAP guaranteed loan or grant you need to be an agricultural producer whereby over 50 percent of your income is from the production of ag products or you have to be a small business owner in a rural area.
Loans are guaranteed by the USDA to lenders for energy efficiency improvements and for installations of PV solar systems that ultimately serve to reducing the costs for agricultural producers and rural small businesses utility bills.
One of the more daunting issues of the previous version of the Farm Bill from 2008 was the application procedure, especially for the smaller business and producers. In the 2014 update they have made it easier by introducing a small category with much simpler application process for system with an investment of less than $80,000.
In addition to guaranteeing loans the REAP program provides three individual grant programs:
- The Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems. This allows for energy efficiency improvements, use of renewable technologies that reduce energy consumption and participants in energy audits, renewable energy development assistance, and feasibility studies.
- The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant Program provides grant assistance to entities that will assist agriculture producers and small rural businesses by conducting energy audits and providing information on renewable energy development assistance.
- The Feasibility Studies Grant Program assists financially applicants that need to complete a feasibility study, which are required in applications for many of USDA’s and other government agencies’ energy programs.
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If you’re an agricultural producer or a rural small business owner you owe it to yourself to reduce your operating costs for the long term. Need Help or have questions? Give us a call at Yellowlite and we’ll be happy to help you determine your best means for taking advantage of REAP to save you money and protect the environment that you, rural America, stewards that we all depend on so much and are so thankful for.