Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is providing funding to help Wisconsin farmers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption, create jobs and promote economic development.
He announced nearly $2.7 million in loans and grants through USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and three other economic development programs.
"President Obama and I are committed to helping farmers, agricultural producers and rural businesses create jobs, identify new income sources and become more energy efficient," Vilsack said. "This funding will not only help Wisconsin farmers and small business owners reduce energy costs, but also improve their bottom line."
For example, Helene's Hilltop Orchard, LLC of Merrill, will receive grant funds to purchase and install a new photovoltaic solar lighting system at the orchard, saving 40 percent in annual energy costs. In Darlington, Johnson Wind, LLC. was selected to receive loan and grant funds to assist rural small businesses in developing wind energy generation system.
USDA energy efficiency programs often yield double digit energy savings. 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, which was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, click here.
In addition to the 45 REAP projects announced, Vilsack announced funding for three additional Wisconsin projects:
The College of Menominee Nation is awarded a $196,600 Tribal College Initiative Grant to expand student parking facilities and buy and install an emergency generator. The electrical generator will support the new library.
CAP Services, Inc. will receive $262,296 to establish revolving loan fund to provide low-interest loans to public bodies, non-profit organizations, and for-profit businesses. The fund, provided through the Intermediary Relending Program, will assist businesses and economic development in Marquette, Portage, Waupaca, Waushara, and Wood Counties.
Spring Rose Growers Cooperative in Verona will receive a $197,400 grant to provide technical assistance for and by socially disadvantaged growers in southern Wisconsin. In conjunction with the Dumlin Community Farm Producers Co-op, Hmong, Hispanic and other growers will craft courses to assist member producers become more sustainable and profitable. Funds are provided through the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant program.