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USDA has funds for energy efficiency

Agriculture.com Staff 03/21/2007 @ 3:13pm

If you're considering more efficient grain drying or upgrading livestock waterers in a way that lowers energy use on your farm, the USDA has grants that could help you pay for it.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced Wednesday that there's $11.4 million available nationwide for grants that can be used either to produce renewable energy or to increase on-farm energy efficiency. And another $176.5 million is available for loan guarantees.

Loan guarantees cover up to 50% of a project's cost, not to exceed $10 million. Grants are available for up to 25% of a project's cost, not to exceed $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements and $500,000 for renewable energy systems.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency loan and grant program was started by the 2002 Farm Bill.

It also has a lower limit for a project's cost, according to Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa. It's a minimum of $10,000 for renewable energy production and $6,000 for energy efficiency.

"Any feedlot of any size, if they're looking to replace their waterers, is going to get past that $6,000 pretty quickly," Reisinger told Agriculture Online.

Newer waterers that use geothermal heat to supplement electrical heat are also much more energy efficient, said Reisinger, who grew up on an Iowa farm with a cattle operation.

And, while you can apply for these grants at any time, the deadline to apply for grants from this year's pool of funds is May 18. The deadline for applications for loan guarantees, or a combination of grants and loan guarantees, is July 2.

Other ways the energy efficiency grants have been used are to replace inefficient older electrical motors and to insulate buildings. They can be used in small business in communities of less than 50,000 as well as on farms. They cannot be used in a residence on a farm.

For renewable energy production, they've been used to help finance ethanol and biodiesel plants, wind energy, anaerobic digesters, and geothermal heat production, Reisinger said.

"This program really helps enable the development of renewable energy production," Reisinger said.

Click here for more information on the program and how to apply.

If you're considering more efficient grain drying or upgrading livestock waterers in a way that lowers energy use on your farm, the USDA has grants that could help you pay for it.

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