Farm Energy for America
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
American agriculture has abundant renewable resources that can be used to produce electric power, heat and fuel through a wide range of emerging and market-ready modern technologies. Increasingly, farmers and ranchers produce renewable energy along with food.
The Rural Energy for America Program — REAP — uniquely accelerates development of a broad range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that serve every state and all of agriculture. REAP provides competitive grants and loan guarantees to cover a portion of project costs. REAP was created in the 2003 Farm Bill and renewed and expanded in the 2008 Farm Bill. REAP has sparked a renaissance in renewable energy production across the country benefitting farms, rural economies and the entire nation.
Under REAP, farm energy development and innovation surged in many ways. For example, REAP sparked impressive growth in farm digesters that convert manure to energy and other products while reducing waste. More farmers now harvest the winds blowing over their fields, and many even own a stake in the turbines on their land. Farmers always harvested solar power in the form of food crops and now they are increasingly tapping the sun for thermal and electric energy. Energy efficiency helps farmers save money by cutting energy waste and pollution with modern technologies and conservation strategies.
REAP is a popular program with applications from farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses regularly exceeding appropriations because it encompasses a wide range of technologies, including energy efficiency, wind turbines, solar panels, thermal solar, geothermal, anaerobic digesters, biomass energy and biofuels. The 2008 Farm Bill added tidal, wave, ocean thermal and small hydroelectric technologies. The broad technology support opens doors of opportunity widely to all agricultural sectors in all states.
REAP Means Stronger Profits for Agriculture & Jobs for Rural Economies
REAP energy efficiency and renewable energy projects increase farm income by cutting energy bills and increasing and diversifying farm income. Small renewable energy systems cut energy bills while larger systems produce new and diversified income from energy and byproduct sales. Rural small businesses have used REAP to cut their operating costs, helping many to stay in business and compete.
An added benefit of REAP is that it helps to attract a new and younger generation of farmers that embraces the opportunities presented by REAP to modernize farm operations, cut costs, increase revenues and provide renewable energy to society.
REAP Means More Jobs & Energy Security
REAP addresses multiple policy goals in several areas — jobs and economic development, energy security and environmental stewardship. REAP investments foster new jobs, expand business opportunities and create new markets.
REAP improves local economies through a variety of new jobs, including system design and development, installation, operation and maintenance. REAP creates jobs at a relatively strong rate: 18.5 jobs per million dollars invested. REAP leverages modest public cost-sharing to spark greater private investment in rural communities: the USDA estimates over $1 billion in private investment in REAP projects from 2008 to 2012, creating or saving over 18,000 jobs.
REAP provides environmental and public health benefits with reduced fossil energy production and consumption, reduced water consumption for energy production, and less air and water pollution. While markets alone do not reward environmental benefits from clean energy development, REAP program investments reflect those benefits, while generating economic development.
REAP increases our energy and national security through development of homegrown renewable resources. Distributed renewable energy production is inherently more resilient to supply interruption.
REAP delivers broad value to agriculture, rural communities and our nation far beyond its cost. It has been a successful program that has served the entire nation and should be renewed and well funded.