April 22, 2022
On April 22, Earth Day, a group of 108 farming, business and environmental groups led by the Environmental Law & Policy Center called on Congress to fully fund a popular program that helps farms and ranches adopt clean energy solutions.
In a letter to the leadership of the respective House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittees, a diverse coalition including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and many national and regional environmental groups called for full mandatory and discretionary funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) as requested by President Biden.
Since its inception two decades ago, REAP has helped over 20,000 farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to adopt clean energy and boost rural economic development while cutting their energy bills. Since the 2014 Farm Bill, REAP has leveraged nearly $10 billion in private investment in rural economies.
“REAP is one of the most popular and successful energy programs USDA or the federal government has to offer” said Agriculture Energy Coalition Director Lloyd Ritter. “The projects REAP supports are mostly small in cost and scale, but they mean a lot for the stability of small family-owned farms – and add up to a big climate impact.”
It’s also a popular program. Demand for grants and loan guarantees exceeded funding by an average 4.5 times over the past 10 years.
“In addition to the strong environmental benefits, REAP helps farmers stay independent,” said Director of Government and Industry Affairs Adam Warthesen for the Organic Valley farmers cooperative based in Wisconsin. “This is a program that reduces and stabilizes energy costs, ensuring family-owned small businesses can become more self-reliant – this is good public policy that can leverage innovation and real change on the farm.”
REAP serves every agricultural sector and every state in the nation.
“New Englanders bear some of the highest energy costs in the nation,” said New England Farmers Union President Roger Noonan, owner of Middle Branch Farm in New Hampshire. “In these increasingly uncertain times, the need for REAP has only increased. Improving energy efficiency and supporting the development of on-farm renewable energy will enhance our resilience.”
“Climate change is already a market factor as commodity buyers seek a lower carbon footprint – and REAP helps farmers deliver,” said ELPC Senior Policy Advocate Andy Olsen, who recently testified before the House Agricultural Committee in support of REAP.