February 02, 2005

Crapo Encourages Farm Energy Applicants

USDA program netted Idahoans more than $1 million last year

Washington, DC - Idaho farmers interested in becoming more involved with renewable energy have an opportunity to get a boost from the federal government. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is encouraging farmers, ranchers, and rural business owners to contact their local USDA Rural Development office to see if they are eligible for assistance under a renewable energy grant program to increase farm energy production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that nearly $23 million in grants will be made available this year nationwide through USDA Rural Development. Crapo, chairman of the Senate Agriculture subcommittee with jurisdiction over rural development, worked to include renewable energy programs in the first-ever energy title of the 2002 Farm Bill.â??Last year the renewable energy grant program brought more than a million dollars into Idaho for energy and research created at farms and other rural locations,â?? Crapo said. â??This ongoing program strengthens our rural economy, broadens our energy portfolio making us less dependant on fossil fuels, and it builds a new income source that will provide income to farmers outside of what they receive for their traditional crops.â?? Applicants for the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program must be agricultural producers or rural small businesses, U.S. citizens or legal residents, and have demonstrated financial need. Rural Development grant funds may be used to pay up to 25 percent of the eligible project costs. Eligible projects include those that derive energy from a wind, solar, biomass, or geothermal source, or hydrogen derived from biomass or water using wind, solar, or geothermal energy sources. Applications must be completed and submitted with a postmark by July 19, 2004, which is 75 days from the May 5 release in the Federal Register. Detailed information about program requirements and information on how and where to apply is included in the funding notice and at USDA Rural Development offices. Awards will be made on a competitive basis for the purchase of renewable energy systems and to make energy improvements at rural locations.# # #