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May Showers and Farm Power

May 17, 2013

Farmers know how busy spring can be. There is a lot to put in place now in order for the rest of the year to run smoothly and successfully. This year’s late planting has made the month of May all the busier for many.

When it rains it pours, they say. And, true to the saying, there are a number of deadlines this month for federal energy funding program applications that farmers might consider in order to help their farms run more smoothly and successfully.

Rain cloud by thegipper, via MorgueFileMay 17 – EQIP

First up, today! is the deadline for the last ‘ranking period’ this year in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP helps provide financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices, including sharing in the cost of a farm energy audit, and, once an audit has been done, offering a cost-share on the recommended equipment upgrades. Contact your local USDA Service Center to talk with NRCS staff about the program and inquire about next year – even if you can’t make the deadline today.

May 31 – REAP

Next, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides assistance – both grants and loan guarantees – to agriculture producers and rural small businesses to install renewable energy systems or complete energy efficiency improvements. Grant funding under REAP offers up to 25% of total project costs, and loans and grant/loan combinations will cover up to 75% of total project costs.

REAP applications for energy efficiency projects require an energy audit that shows energy savings. Depending on the project budget, there are differing requirements for the energy audit report and who conducts it. While in years past REAP has helped pay for an energy audit, that opportunity is not available this year.

For more information, contact your local USDA Rural Development office. When ready to apply, submit your application by May 31 to Ron Omann, USDA Rural Development, 375 Jackson Street, Suite 410, St. Paul, MN 55101. (Loan applications can be submitted until July 15.)

May 31 – CSP

Update: The May deadline has been rescinded, and until a new deadline is announced, the NRCS will be accepting applications on an on-going basis.

The Conservation Stewardship Program provides participants with an annual land use payment for operation-level environmental benefits they produce. It encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, including implementing energy efficiency upgrades. Payments are based on conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher the payment. The USDA-NRCS has announced $175 million in funding for enrolling an additional 12.6 million acres in the program this year

To determine if your farm is right for CSP, you can use the self checklist (PDF). Then, when ready, submit an application to your local NRCS office by May 31 to ensure you’re considered for this year’s funding.
If you decide to move ahead with any of these programs and are in need of a farm energy auditor, please contact us and we’ll put you in touch with someone well qualified. Call 651-789-3324 or email sdaniel@mnproject.org.

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