U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz today announced over $1.5 million in support for Minnesota farmers and rural businesses to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency and lower energy costs. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps farmers and rural business owners reduce their costs by providing grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
"Programs like REAP give Minnesota's farmers the tools they need to be more energy efficient," Peterson said. "This support will lower agriculture producers' operating costs while also allowing them to provide renewable fuels from the farm."
"Minnesota's farmers and rural communities are the backbone of our state's economy," Klobuchar said. "Support such as this will help farmers and small business owners lower their energy costs and boost economic development by investing in the future of homegrown and renewable energy sources."
"As the author of the REAP provision in the Farm Bill that the Senate passed this summer, I understand that high energy costs are a pressing issue for Minnesota farmers and rural businesses," said Sen. Franken. "These REAP grants provide them with resources to help them install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will cut their energy costs."
"We must take control of our energy future with an aggressive, forward thinking energy policy that works for rural America," said Walz. "Reducing overhead energy costs for local farmers and small businesses will increase their efficiency and help them grow and prosper--and that creates jobs. This funding is a step in the right direction."
The $1,573,011 in support from REAP will go to farmers and rural businesses in the following counties: Becker, Benton, Big Stone, Blue Earth, Carlton, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Grant, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lake of the Woods, Martin, Morrison, Mower, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Olmsted, Otter Tail, Polk, Redwood, Renville, Rice, Roseau, Sherburne, Stevens, Traverse, Wabasha, and Watonwan.
Klobuchar has been a strong supporter of energy development in rural communities. This year she cosponsored an amendment in the 2012 Farm Bill which provided $800 million dollars for energy programs, including REAP, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Biorefinery Assistance Program and the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program. The amendment was included in the version of the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year. The Farm Bill passed by the Senate includes a provision authored by Sen. Franken that would reauthorize and improve the REAP program.