OP: The Farm Bill also supports
renewable resources and helps farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses who want to improve their own
energy systems through grants and
loan guarantees for energy efficiency
improvements and renewable energy
systems. Please tell us more about this.
Congress builds on the successes of that title and includes added funds for what
will be named the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
This program provides grants and loan guarantees to farmers, ranchers and
rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency projects.
In its short existence, the program has already proven popular and successful,
with about $100 million in federal funding leveraging approximately 10 times that
much in other funding for projects. Some of the most common projects have
been wind power systems and more efficient grain dryers and irrigation pumps.
Harkin: Organic farms have an opportunity to increase our nation’s energy
security using domestic, homegrown
resources, but there are too few
resources to help farmers to transition
to use of renewable sources of energy.
I started to change that in the The
Farm Security and Rural Investment
Act of 2002 by including the first-ever
energy title, with a program of grants
and loans for ranchers and rural small
businesses to help them transition to
renewable sources of energy and
improve energy efficiency. The Senate
Farm Bill currently moving through
OP: Do you have any suggestions of how those who support organic can get
involved to further support these efforts in the future?
Harkin: Much of what I’ve learned about the needs of this industry has come
from producers and organizations dedicated to expanding the industry, so I
encourage all who are interested in promoting organics to continue to push
Congress to fully fund initiatives that help with this expanding industry. Interested
readers can contact myself and other members of the Senate Agriculture Committee by filling out the web form at www.agriculture.senate.gov.
Foreword Contributed by Tracy Lerman, the policy program assistant at The Organic Farming
Research Foundation (OFRF), a non-profit leader in grantmaking, policy, education and networking initiatives that support organic farmers’ immediate information needs while moving
the public and policymakers toward greater investment in organic farming systems. For more
information on the Farm Bill and more, visit www.ofrf.org.