Congress should guarantee at least $500 million a year for USDA grants and loan guarantees to install renewable energy systems or improve energy efficiency on farms and small businesses in rural areas—10 times current funding, said an environmental group on Tuesday. House Agriculture chairman David Scott said mandatory funding levels for USDA energy programs would be considered as part of writing the 2023 farm bill.
The USDA program that promotes rural renewable energy production and energy efficiency would see annual funding of $250 million along with a $1 billion injection to address a backlog in applications under companion Senate and House bills introduced Thursday.
From grow lights in greenhouses and massive diesel-powered farm tractors to the refrigerators in millions of American homes, the food system ranks as a major power user. "Up to a fifth of our nation’s total energy use goes into growing, transporting, processing and eventually preparing our food, but those energy inputs are often hidden," says the opening story of a series by Harvest Public Media and Inside Energy.
The Agriculture Department said it will award $102 million in loan guarantees and $71 million in grants for 1,114 small rural businesses and agricultural producers to install renewable energy systems or improve energy efficiency in their operations.
The world's largest cereal maker, Kellogg Co, said it will reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020 to combat climate change.