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USDA makes investment in renewable energy and fertilizer

The $207 million investment spans 42 states and aims to slash energy bills, create jobs, and enhance competition for U.S. farmers.

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Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled a substantial investment of $207 million in renewable energy and domestic fertilizer projects. This initiative, funded by President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, is the largest-ever investment in the nation's efforts to combat climate change.

The announcement was made by Secretary Vilsack at the 105th annual American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. The investment, spread across 42 states, is set to lower energy bills, generate new income, create jobs and strengthen competition for U.S. farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program (FPEP) will be the primary channels for allocating these funds.

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Today's REAP awards amount to $157 million and will support 675 projects across 42 states. Notably, more than $94 million is allocated from President Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. The REAP program aligns with the President's Justice40 Initiative, aiming to direct 40% of certain federal investment benefits to disadvantaged communities. The projects are expected to cut energy costs for farmers and ag producers, creating job opportunities and new revenue streams for local communities.

Some examples of REAP-funded projects include:

  • In Colorado's La Plata County, a solar array installation at a wastewater treatment facility is expected to save $58,000 per year, benefiting residents.
  • A soybean farm in Pennsylvania will install a solar photovoltaic system, saving $262,000 annually and supporting local economic growth.
  • Sturgis Meats in South Dakota will install a refrigeration system, saving $32,000 in energy costs per year.

Fertilizer Production Expansion Program (FPEP)

FPEP will receive $50 million to support seven projects in seven states. President Biden has committed up to $900 million through the Commodity Credit Corporation for FPEP. The funding aims to strengthen supply chains, create economic opportunities, and support climate-smart innovation.

Examples of FPEP-funded projects include:

  • ARE Properties LLC in Nebraska will build a fully automated fertilizer facility designed for custom product manufacturing based on plant tissue and soil samples.
  • Biogas Corporation in North Carolina will install an anaerobic digestion facility, producing organic fertilizer and ammonium sulfate, creating additional positions and generating clean energy.

These investments come at a crucial time, considering rising fertilizer prices and challenges faced by American farmers. The USDA continues to accept REAP applications, holding funding competitions quarterly through September 30, 2024.

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