USDA also announces new fertilizer investment.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

March 28, 2024

2 Min Read
Wind turbines and solar panels at sunset
Getty Images/iStockPhoto/lovelyday12

As election year heats up, the Biden administration continues to tout its efforts to bring more renewable energy to rural America. During a Thursday event at the University of Nebraska Omaha, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA would invest $120 million dollars in 541 new projects through the Rural Energy for America Program. Those projects will benefit people in 44 states. Funds will come from the Inflation Reduction Act.

During the same address, Vilsack also announced an additional $4 million in Fertilizer Production Expansion Program funding. That will help Bluestem Systems build fertilizer production facilities at three locations in Iowa and Nebraska. When completed, those facilities are expected to produce 11,000 tons of fertilizer each year, benefiting approximately 1,500 producers.

Vilsack says the $124 million in additional investments will help lower energy costs, generate new income and create more agricultural sector jobs.

“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is committed to ensuring farmers, ranchers and small businesses are directly benefitting from both a clean energy economy and a strong U.S. supply chain,” Vilsack said. “The investments announced today will expand access to renewable energy systems and domestic fertilizer, all while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money that they can then invest back into their businesses and communities.”

This latest round of funding includes support for a wind turbine project in Nebraska. Darr Grains will install three turbines at a grain storage facility that are expected to generate more than 138,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year.

Moorit Hill Farm in Maine will receive funds to install a roof mount solar system that will save 50,000 kilowatts of energy per year. That’s the equivalent of 50,000 pounds of coal.

Boulder Creek Oz in Idaho is receiving funds for a biomass furnace to heat cabins and mountain lodging facilities in Boundary County. USDA says the project will save the company more than $3,800 per year. It will also replace around 94% of the company’s annual energy use.

The Rural Energy for America Program, commonly known as REAP, was mandated by President Biden’s executive order to bring more benefits to disadvantaged communities and areas with major pollution issues. The administration has already allocated more than $1.8 billion to REAP, funding more than 6,000 renewable energy projects across the country.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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