Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states to encourage renewable energy production, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager during a trip to Wisconsin.

"Through the efforts of the Obama Administration, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the nation," Vilsack said. "Since its creation this program has assisted almost 9,600 small businesses, farmers and ranchers and created or saved an estimated 15,000 jobs. It also provides producers with new opportunities to diversify revenue and make American agriculture and rural small business more competitive."

Funding for the biodigesters is provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kWh of electricity and reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the biodigesters announced will be constructed on Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County, Wisconsin. It is expected to produce 3.3 million kW hours of renewable energy each year, enough to power 400 average Wisconsin homes per year. Digesters will also be constructed in Pennsylvania, Idaho, Iowa, Florida, Oregon, Ohio and Vermont.

The announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020.


In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA, through the REAP program, provided nearly $21 million in assistance for biodigesters, and leveraged more than $110 million in project development. Through its Value-Added Producer Grant program, USDA provides planning grants of up to $100,000 and working capital grants of up to $300,000 to be used for establishment of a biodigester. Additionally, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives (EQIP) program.

REAP anaerobic digester funds announced included grants and loans to the following:
• Organic Matters, Inc., Bartow, Florida, $201,498 grant
• AgPower Jerome, LLC, Lincoln County, Idaho, $500,000 grant
• New Energy Two, LLC, Middleton, Idaho, $500,000 grant
• New Energy Three LLC, Middleton, Idaho, $500,000 grant
• Sioux Pharm Inc., Sioux Center, Iowa, $263,250 loan, $263,250 grant
• Mill Creek Digester, LLC, West Unity, Ohio, $600,000 loan, $499,924 grant
• Belmont County Bioenergy, LLC, Independence, Ohio, $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant
• Lime Lakes Energy, LLC, Norton, Ohio, $1.5 million loan, $500,000 grant
• Wooster Renewable Energy, LLC, Wooster, Ohio, $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant
• Ringler Energy, LLC, Cardington, Ohio, $3,238,750 loan, $500,000 grant
• Haviland Energy, LLC, Paulding County, Ohio, $600,000 loan, $500,000 grant
• Farm Power Misty Meadow, LLC, Tillamook, Oregon, $1 million loan, $500,000 grant
• Farm Power Tillamook, LLC, Tillamook, Oregon, $2.65 million loan, $100,000 grant
• Hard Earned Acres, Inc., Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, $331,709 grant
• Reinford-Frymoyer Farm, LLC, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, $337,224 grant
• Arlen Benner, Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, $500,000 grant
• Jay Clifford Sensenig, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, $309,733 grant
• Riverview Farm, Franklin, Vermont, $429,703 loan, $214,851 grant
• Heller Farms (Cow Poo, LLC), Alma Center, Wisconsin, $1,321,187 loan, $500,000 grant

Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project's cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewable energy systems, $250,000 for energy efficiency. PD

—From USDA news release