The USDA announced that they will begin offering resources that would allow rural farmers and small business owners to buy and install renewable energy systems. This is an “enormous economic opportunity for rural America” according to Tom Vilsack, the Agricultural Secretary for the USDA. In fact they are making more than $280 million available for eligible applicants and are offering grants that would cover up to 25 percent of the total cost. Potential projects include solar, wind, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass.
Although the Farm Bill, that passed in 2014, is usually focused on food the USDA recognizes that limiting the country’s dependence on foreign oil, reducing pollution and supporting clean energy practices are very important for the future of American agriculture. The project is also supposed to increase economic yield and business productivity. Decreasing the cost of electricity even by a small amount can make positive changes in profit margins. When the project is up and running it could power more than 5.5 million homes per year.