Senator Chuck Grassley today sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging him to move forward quickly with implementing the Notice of Solicitation for Applications for the Rural Energy for America Program.
"This program has been very successful in providing investment in clean energy and improved energy efficiency. The Department of Agriculture shouldn't waste any time in getting the application process started for 2009, because farmers and small business owners need some time to apply and the department will need more time to review the applications before the end of the fiscal year."
Funding for the Rural Energy for America Program increased from $36 million in 2008 to $60 million in 2009. As of today, the agriculture department had not yet issued the notice that they were accepting applications for the grants and loan guarantees. A copy of the text of Senator Grassley's letter to Secretary Vilsack is below.
April 28, 2009
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
I write today with a concern about the timing of a Notice of Solicitation for Applications (NOSA) for Section 9007 of the Food Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 - the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Funding for this program increased from $36 million in 2008 to $60 million in 2009. REAP has been extremely valuable in helping farmers and rural businesses in my home state of Iowa and across the country to invest in clean energy and improve energy efficiency. I want to see it continue to succeed, particularly in view of its increased appropriations, the increased demand for its use, and the continuing need to address serious, on-farm and rural energy management challenges.
Ideally, there should be at least a 90 day window for farmers and rural small business owners to submit applications once the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues the NOSA. USDA then requires a reasonable amount of time before the end of the fiscal year to select the best projects among many hundreds or thousands of applications. As of today, USDA has not yet issued the NOSAs for the REAP grants and loan guarantees.
Given the funding increase and the needed window of time for project application and selection, I urge you to proceed as quickly as possible with issuing the NOSA for this program for this fiscal year.
Thank you for consideration of this request.
Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator