S.D. Farmers Union Supports Rural Energy for America Program with Letter of Support
National, regional and state associations and groups, including South Dakota Farmers Union, have signed on to a letter urging Agriculture Committee leaders and members in both the House and Senate to support the inclusion of the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program with increased or maintained mandatory funding in the next Farm Bill.
S.D. Farmers Union President Doug Sombke issued the following statement in support of the program:
“REAP has made tremendous impact on South Dakota family farmers, ranchers, small business owners and their ability to produce clean energy, cutting energy cost and stimulating development in previously struggling rural communities. Rural economies are being faced with a multiyear slump in the farm economy, so it is vital optional revenue streams are available to increase farm incomes. Increasing or maintaining REAP helps ensure that the programs benefits will be available to more rural South Dakotan in years to come.”
The following is the REAP letter of support:
Dear Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Peterson, Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow,
We, the undersigned organizations, urge you to support inclusion of the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program with increased or, at the least, maintained mandatory funding in the next Farm Bill. REAP drives renewable energy and energy efficiency investments benefiting farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses in every state and across the agricultural sectors.
REAP was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. Since its inception, this program has helped 15,000 farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses produce clean energy, cut energy costs, and boost rural economic development. REAP has enjoyed bipartisan support.
Importantly, REAP investments – including both grants and loan guarantees - leverage far more private investment in our rural communities. REAP plays a critical role in increasing investment in rural economic development and growing new opportunities for rural small businesses and agricultural producers. Since the 2014 Farm Bill, REAP has leveraged more than $4 billion in private investment in rural economies.
REAP opens new opportunities to save and make money for farmers and rural small businesses in every state and across agricultural sectors. REAP supports a wide range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology choices; including wind and solar power, advanced biofuels, farm digesters, and energy efficiency technologies that cut farm input costs. REAP also creates new revenue streams, increasing farm income at a time when rural communities are struggling with a multiyear slump in the farm economy.
Increasing or maintaining mandatory funding for REAP will help bring the benefits of the program to more farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses. Lower funding levels limit the ability of REAP to serve rural America and deter applications and investments.
REAP is popular and widely supported, with requests for project funding exceeding available funds each year. This is not surprising, given that profit margins for rural small businesses and farmers improve as they cut energy costs with modern energy efficiency and generate their own energy through renewable energy technologies. Further, growing new opportunities with modern technologies helps to keep younger generations in rural areas and in farming.
REAP has a strong track record of success, and with sufficient mandatory funding we believe that REAP will continue to benefit farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses across the country while helping meet our nation’s pressing energy, environmental, and rural economic development needs. Importantly, by reducing energy input costs, REAP provides relief to farmers struggling with low commodity prices. We encourage you to ensure that REAP continues to be a high priority within the farm bill with robust funding.
President, South Dakota Farmers Union