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As Senate Debate Begins, 2012 Farm Bill Includes Sen. Franken's Provision To Cut Energy Costs for Farmers, Rural Businesses

Senator Vows to Fight to Adequately Fund REAP Program, Strengthen Farm Safety Net

Thursday, April 26, 2012

As Senate debate over the 2012 Farm Bill begins, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said the legislation includes his provision to cut energy costs for farmers and rural businesses.

Addressing high energy costs and strengthening the farm safety net were two of the most pressing issues raised at recent meetings Sen. Franken and his staff held across the state with Minnesota farmers and farm leaders.

Sen. Franken’s provision would reauthorize and improve the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so they can cut energy bills and earn additional income by selling the energy they produce.

“To prepare for the Farm Bill debate, my staff and I have been meeting with farmers and farm leaders across Minnesota—and they've told me they want opportunities to cut energy costs as well as assurances that an effective farm safety net will stay in place," said Sen. Franken. “That’s exactly why I pushed to include my REAP provision in this year's Farm Bill and why I will continue to work to ensure this important program is adequately funded.  I'll also press to improve important parts of the farm safety net like crop insurance so that farmers are adequately protected when hard times hit."

More information on Sen. Franken’s REAP bill is available below.

 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Reauthorization Act

What is REAP? The Rural Energy for America Program helps farmers and small businesses save money and earn new income by providing assistance for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The program offers grants and loan guarantees directly to agricultural producers of all types and rural small businesses to help them install renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, as well as conduct feasibility studies. The program also provides grants to entities that can provide energy auditing and energy development services to rural farmers and businesses.

Major benefits of the program include:

  • Improving producer margins by cutting energy bills or producing energy on-­site.
  • Directly benefitting agriculture producers of all types in all states with support for diverse and modern technologies.
  • Helping farmers diversify and increase income through energy sales.
  • Developing local economies through new jobs for system development, installation, operation and maintenance.

What does the REAP provision do?

There is strong consensus among farmers and rural business owners on improvements to the REAP program. In addition to some smaller tweaks to the program, the bill’s topline provisions include:

  • Reauthorizing REAP Program: In these tough economic times the bill ensures that this important program receives adequate funding to support energy projects across rural areas of America.
  • Simplifying the Application Process: The bill simplifies applications for small projects, creating a three-tiered application system with application simplicity reflecting the size of the project.

 

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