USDA Investing $207 Million in Clean Energy and Domestic Fertilizer Projects

by Colter Brown

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that USDA is awarding $207 million in 42 states for projects through the Rural Energy for America Program and the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program.

In a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in Salt Lake City, Vilsack noted that many of the projects are being funded through the Inflation Reduction Act.

“President Biden and USDA are ensuring farmers, ranchers and small businesses are not only a part of the clean energy economy, but directly benefitting from it,” Vilsack said.

“The investments announced will expand access to renewable energy infrastructure and increase domestic fertilizer production, all while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money on their energy costs that they can then invest back into their businesses and communities.”

The REAP awards total $157 million for 675 projects in 42 states, including more than $94 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. The REAP program delivers on the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. These investments will cut energy costs for farmers and ag producers that can instead be used to create jobs and new revenue streams for people in their communities. For example, Sturgis Meats in Meade, South Dakota will install a refrigeration system that will save $32,000 in energy costs per year. It will also save the company 255,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough energy to power 23 homes. 

Projects financed through FPEP will help U.S. farmers increase independent, domestic fertilizer production. Today’s investments include $50 million in seven projects in seven states. President Biden committed up to $900 million through the Commodity Credit Corporation for FPEP. Funding supports long-term investments that will strengthen supply chains, create new economic opportunities for American businesses, and support climate-smart innovation. For example: 

·        Farmers Union Oil Company of Circle, MT will receive a $3.39 million grant that will be used to provide expansion financing for a fertilizer processing facility in rural Montana. This project will secure additional working capital inventory to increase production capacity as well as life safety and operational efficiency equipment within the new plant. This project will save five local jobs and create two additional positions through expansion. The new plant will provide a local and affordable option for agriculture producers in a four county region seeking a custom formulated fertilizer product which is domestically produced.

·        ARE Properties LLC in Nebraska will build a fully automated fertilizer facility designed to manufacture custom products based on the results of plant tissue and soil samples. All equipment in the facility runs on natural gas with the long-range strategy to retrofit the facility for alternative energy sources in the future. 

·        Biogas Corporation will purchase and install a new anaerobic digestion facility in Monroe County, North Carolina. This project is expected to create 19 additional positions.  The new state-of-the-art facility will produce 50,000 tons of organic fertilizer and ammonium sulfate annually, all available to farming operations or resellers supporting local producers. Through the unique combustion process, the facility projects to generate 55,000 megawatts of clean energy per year to be purchased and distributed through Duke Energy Carolinas. 

USDA is making the REAP and FPEP awards in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. 

Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has invested more than $166 million in 40 projects nationwide to boost domestic fertilizer production through FPEP. USDA has also taken steps to support producers in leveraging these tools through nutrient management assistance and climate-smart management practices.



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