The USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized by the 2008 farm bill.

"Renewable energy development presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This funding will assist rural farmers, ranchers and business owners to build renewable energy projects, providing opportunities for new technologies, create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient."

The Rural Energy for America Program is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs. For 2012, USDA has approximately $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, which will support at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in guaranteed loan program level awards. USDA is accepting the following applications:

  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until March 30, 2012.
  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications on a continuous basis up to June 29, 2012.
  • Renewable energy system feasibility study applications through March 30, 2012.
  • Energy audits and renewable energy development assistance applications through February 21, 2012.

More information on how to apply for funding is available in the January 20, 2012 Federal Register, pages 2948 through 2954.

This funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilize our nation's natural resources.

USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program was authorized under the 2008 farm bill. It provides loan guarantees to capitalize on the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels. The Program is designed to assist with the commercial deployment of production technologies to produce advanced biofuels, and thereby increase the energy independence of the United States; promote resource conservation, public health, and the environment; diversify markets for agricultural and forestry products and agriculture waste material; create jobs and enhance the economic development of the rural economy.