House Eliminates REAP and Energy Crop Programs

Decision Means Higher Energy Costs for Farms and Rural Businesses

(May 24, 2011) Today the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee will  vote to eliminate the popular and effective Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in its 2012 appropriations bill. REAP is the only federal program successfully helping farmers and rural small businesses fight high energy costs with renewable energy systems and energy efficiency.

“Killing REAP leaves agriculture and rural businesses at the mercy of high oil and electricity prices,” said Andy Olsen, ELPC Senior Policy Advocate.

Each year more farmers and rural businesses have used REAP, with demand far outpacing the available funding. Since 2003, REAP has helped nearly 6,000 farmers and rural businesses in every state in the U.S. with grants and loan guarantees to help finance new clean energy and energy efficiency projects, drive private investment and save many millions of dollars each year on energy costs.

“The House could not be sending a clearer signal that they don’t care about rising on-farm energy prices,” said Mr. Olsen. “This ‘do-nothing” approach strikes at the heart of America’s ‘can do’ attitude.”

Last year Congress sliced total REAP funding by 25%, even as demand for the program continued to increase. This year’s draconian action would be a far more serious setback to energy independence and rural economic development.

In stark contrast, the Subcommittee is planning to maintain funding for the Rural Utilities Service’s major electric cooperative loan program at $6.5 billion, which is $500 million more than the President’s budget request. “These skewed priorities give farmers and rural businesses short shrift,” said John Moore, ELPC Senior Attorney.

The Subcommittee also is planning to cut the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which is producing results in helping farmers grow energy crops for fuel and power. “Eliminating the BCAP and REAP energy programs today is like leaving your wedding before you say ‘I do,’” said Steve Flick, President of the Show Me Energy Cooperative in Missouri.