ELPC 30 years celebration

Wisconsin Farmland

Testimony

Andy Olsen

Build on REAP Success with More Funding

The 2023 Farm Bill is an opportunity to expand and strengthen REAP. Increased funding is needed to reach more agricultural producers and rural small businesses.

Today, I testified in front of the U.S. House Of Representatives, Agriculture Committee in support of the Rural Energy for America Program, also known as REAP.

Watch my testimony below.

ELPC has been involved in the creation and continuation of the REAP since 2002. I have worked on rural energy since 2004 when I traveled the country talking about REAP with farm groups, REAP recipients, and others. ELPC is also a member of the Ag Energy Coalition which leads with us in supporting REAP and other Farm Bill Energy Title Programs. We’ve learned a few lessons along the way.

REAP has always enjoyed bipartisan support.  It serves America in many ways and can help the country cope with rising energy costs, climate risk, and rural economic growth. REAP is broadly beneficial; it serves every agricultural sector and has reached every state in the union. And with smaller farms struggling under dire conditions, REAP helps to lower costs and generate new farm income.

With additional funding, REAP can help agriculture and rural communities to adopt more climate solutions and adapt to, and prosper in, a low carbon future.

By providing grants and loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy, REAP invests in rural America’s future. Energy efficiency helps producers protect profitability by providing a hedge against rising energy costs. Renewable energy stabilizes energy costs over the long term. Many producers have used REAP to implement farmer-owned energy systems in rural areas. We can do more to substantially accelerate and broaden clean technology deployment.

But significant changes are needed to update REAP to help the country face present challenges, which we call “REAP 3.0. The 2023 Farm Bill is an opportunity to expand and strengthen REAP to help decarbonize energy sources and electrify energy usage. This has already happened for years under REAP and we can do more with program enhancements and increased funding.

Read My Full Testimony and Recommendations

With the adjustments described above, and others, Congress can provide to the American people a major upgrade to REAP to serve many national purposes with one program. With additional funding, REAP can help agriculture and rural communities to adopt more climate solutions and adapt to, and prosper in, a low carbon future.

America has the talent and resources to overcome the many daunting challenges we now face. One resource we need to tap used to be called the “American can-do spirit.” Now, more than ever, we need that spirit and to work together for the future of our country and people and ensure that rural America can play a leading role. We can do this!

 

Andy Olsen,

Senior Policy Advocate

Andy Olsen is a senior policy advocate at ELPC, leading the Farm Bill Clean Energy and Rural Solar programs.

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