Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is providing help to Ohio farmers through multiple programs.
First, USDA is offering loan guarantees and grants to agricultural producers and business owners across Ohio to enable them to reduce energy use and increase efficiency.
“These loan guarantees and grants will generate and save energy for Ohio’s farmers and businesses for decades to come,” Vilsack said. “Renewable energy systems like the biodigester that generates electricity for this research center are among the many ways USDA is helping the country become more energy independent.”
The $6 million in funding announced today is authorized through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) and is administered by USDA Rural Development through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Some farm owners have been selected to receive funding to replace older grain dryers with energy efficient models. Others are installing renewable energy systems. For example, French Creek BioEnergy, LLC has been selected for a $500,000 REAP grant and a $1,650,000 guaranteed loan to construct an anaerobic digester that will produce 6.7 million kilowatts of energy annually. In Harrod, Ohio, Harding Wind, LLC has been selected for a $447,500 REAP grant to install a 500 kilowatt wind turbine. It is expected to generate 1.1 million kilowatts of energy annually.
Many rural businesses and farmers in Ohio have already benefited from REAP. Earlier this year, Haber, LLC, a farming operation in Preble County, received a $99,000 guaranteed loan and $49,617 grant to replace an inefficient grain dryer with an energy efficient model. The new dryer will reduce energy costs by an estimated 38 percent.
REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. More information on the REAP program, which was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, is at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapResEei.html.
Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. For a complete list of REAP recipients announced today, click http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/OHREAPNRChartOct27-2010.pdf.
In addition, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Risk Management Agency (RMA) has awarded $9.6 million in Partnership Agreements to provide producers with opportunities to learn more about managing risk in their businesses, which provides an important educational opportunity for limited-resource and underserved farmers and ranchers. Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Michael Scuse announced the awards on Vilsack’s behalf at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Annual Crop Insurance Conference.
“The partnerships we are announcing today will provide community-based opportunities for underserved, small and limited-resource producers to be better managers in an inherently risky business,” said Scuse. “For small and beginning farmers in particular, risk management often means understanding direct marketing and for this they need legal, financial, and food safety tools and information appropriate for the scale of their operation and the markets that they serve.”
Many of the partnerships that RMA is offering can help farmers diversify production and marketing practices, or to provide planning tools to help farmers obtain the insurance and credit that are often critical to their ability to stay in business or to diversify their existing business.
The Federal crop insurance program and Risk Management Education and Outreach programs together provide a safety net to ensure that farmers and ranchers will weather the perils of nature and the marketplace and continue in business, thus ensuring the food supply and the survival of small, limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers . RMA administers these partnership projects as well as the Federal crop insurance program, with funding and authority from the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
The new partnership agreements announced today include:
Crop Insurance Education in Targeted States: $5 million is being awarded to deliver crop insurance education and information to agricultural producers in 16 states designated as historically underserved with respect to crop insurance. These targeted states include: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Commodity Partnerships for Small Agricultural Risk Management Education Sessions: $1 million is being awarded to fund 110 commodity Partnership Agreements across the country, delivering training to U.S. farmers and ranchers in managing production, marketing, and financial risk, such as the award to Annie’s Project in Illinois, Education for Farm Women. The program gives priority to educating producers of crops currently not insured under Federal crop insurance, specialty crops, and underserved commodities, including livestock and forage. RMA expects to reach 1.2 million producers with Risk Management Education Partnerships alone; a 10 percent increase over 2009.
Community Outreach and Assistance Partnerships: USDA is awarding $3.6 million for collaborative outreach and assistance programs, such as the $100,000 award to provide emerging risk management tools to returning veterans to support successful farming. This partnership category targets limited resource, socially disadvantaged and other traditionally under-served farmers and ranchers, who produce priority commodities.
Complete listings of the agreements can be found on the RMA Web site at the following address: http://www.rma.usda.gov/aboutrma/agreements/.
2010 RMA COMMODITY PARTNERSHIPS FOR SMALL AGRICULTURAL RISK EDUCATION SESSIONS
|Commodity Partnership Small Session Program for Christmas Tree Growers State: OH||National Christmas Tree Association||Pam Helmsing|
|Risk Management Training for Ohio Beginning Producers|
|Custom Ag, Inc.||John Mangus|
|Managing Risk for Southeast Ohio Specialty Crop Producers|
|Rural Action||Michelle Decker|
“The specialty crop industry plays an enormously important part in American agriculture and is valued at approximately $50 billion every year,” said Merrigan. “These projects will help provide specialty crop producers with the information and tools they need to successfully grow, process, and market safe and high quality products.”
NIFA awarded more than $46 million through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which was established by the 2008 Farm Bill to support the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. Specialty crops are defined in law as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.” Funded projects address five focus areas: 1) improve crop characteristics through plant breeding, genetics and genomics; 2) address threats from pests and diseases; 3) improve production efficiency, productivity and profitability; 4) develop new innovations and technologies and 5) develop methods to improve food safety.
SCRI gives priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional or trans-disciplinary; and include explicit mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public. Each of the focus areas received at least 10 percent of the available funds. The majority of funded projects address two or more focus areas, and include many collaborating institutions in addition to the awardee.
The projects funded address research and extension needs for crops that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops production, from studying microbial threats to greenhouse tomatoes to assessing grower needs and market potential of berry crops. Major projects were also funded to study the genetics of lettuce breeding and to improve grape and wine quality.
Fiscal Year 2010 SCRI research and extension grants included one for $2,037,717 to Ohio State University.