Washington (July 3, 2012) ‑ A letter from 14 state poultry associations to the House Agriculture Committee today asks for the renewal of the Rural Energy for America Program and mandatory funding to pay for it.

The USDA program provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency audits for agricultural operations and rural small businesses.

“We urge you to renew [REAP] with sufficient mandatory funding,” the poultry groups said in the letter to House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Ranking Member Colin Peterson, D-Minn.

“REAP is a unique program within the federal government that helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses improve their profit margins by cutting energy bills with energy efficiency and renewable energy,” the groups write. They also said the program “creates needed jobs in our rural communities. REAP is one of the few Farm Bill programs that offer direct benefits to the nation’s poultry and egg producers.”

The letter says the program has provided lasting benefits to poultry growers across the country by helping to cut energy costs. The groups cite efficiency measures such as improved insulation, lighting and ventilation, claiming they help poultry growers reduce energy use by 30-40% and protect growers’ bottom lines from volatile energy costs.

The groups also say REAP helps poultry growers in colder regions build biomass heating systems “to supplant the use of expensive heating fuels which can push producers to the brink when prices rise. The broad range of renewable energy options under REAP also provide opportunities for growers to further cut costs or even earn new income with solar, wind and geothermal.”

The groups say REAP is a unique farm energy program “because it offers all agricultural sectors and in every state new opportunities to use a wide range of modern energy technologies.” The write that REAP has grown increasingly popular over the years “as it creates a catalyst effect, providing working real world examples for agriculture on the potential for energy savings and renewable energy production. We continue to learn of new ways to save and produce energy with the benefit of REAP.”

The groups note that demand for REAP consistently exceeds available resources, “creating intense competition for funds and leaving many opportunities for energy savings among poultry growers untapped.”

The poultry interests say “American agricultural producers of all sorts exhibit strong and growing interest in conserving energy and producing renewable energy. With the growing demands on REAP, we are concerned that poultry growers may be squeezed out of these opportunities. Rather than shrink from this interest, the federal government should respond with an increased commitment to this unique federal public-private partnership.”


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