Tag Archives: rural communities

Climate Bill Would Expand USDA Stewardship Program

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

The USDA would double the size of the Conservation Reserve, the government’s largest land-idling program, as part of supporting land stewardship on 100 million acres of farmland under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Monday. Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the sponsors, compared the legislation to New Deal programs to help farmers and combat soil loss during the Dust Bowl.

“The Climate Stewardship Act is a critical investment to seriously engage farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the solution to climate change,” said Booker, who filed a version of the bill in 2019. Spanberger, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee on conservation, said she was “committed to finding new ways to both protect the health of our soil and benefit farmers’ bottom lines.” Continue reading here.

The Climate Stewardship Act (PDF)

Sec.108 Rural Energy for America Program

  • Increases funding from $50M to $3 billion per year to provide grants and loan guarantees for tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to expand renewable energy production and make energy efficiency improvements.
  • Gives funding priority to solar projects that include pollinator habitat.
  • Sets aside 5% of the additional funding for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • Sets aside 5% of the funding for new and beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA Agency Launches New Site for Science-Minded Students, USDA News Release

AgLab, a new science-education website operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, is now “open for business” to students and educators alike. 

Geared toward K-12 students with an interest in food and science, AgLab offers a variety of content to promote a greater understanding of how agricultural research is helping meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel needs of a growing world population while also safeguarding our environment and natural resources.

USDA Seeks Public Input to Help Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2021 — Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is requesting public input from interested parties, including potential customers and interested stakeholders, to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021.

“When we invest in creating new sources of renewable energy, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs in rural America,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. “To meet this goal, we must put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions, and that begins with getting feedback from a broad, diverse set of voices from the start.” Continue reading here.

For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE CLIMATE ALLIANCE REPORT

Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance Expands Membership, Drills Down on Policy Recommendations, National Farmers Union News Release

[In February] the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) announced expanding membership and new policy working groups focused on developing a set of more specific policy proposals that drill down on the 40+ recommendations released by FACA in November 2020. FACA’s eight founding members — American Farm Bureau Federation (co-chair), Environmental Defense Fund (co-chair), FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (co-chair), National Farmers Union (co-chair) and The Nature Conservancy — welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee. FACA’s original 40+ recommendations cover six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste. They are outlined in a 50-page report [PDF] and summarized in a hand-out [PDF].

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN NEWS & RESOURCES

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS REGENERATIVE AG REPORT

Healthy Soils and the Climate Connection: A Path to Economic Recovery on America’s Farms
 provides a roadmap for how climate-smart agriculture policies could provide profit boosts for farmers and climate wins for advocates.

Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.

E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

Previously Posted
Biden to Engage Farmers & Build Climate Resilience, NRDC
What Biden’s Climate Plan Means For Regenerative Ag, Rodale Institute

Buyer’s Guides
A Buyer’s Guide To Regenerative Food, Rodale Institute
RegeNErate Nebraska Resource Guide

Recommended Books 

 

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, by Leah Penniman

 

 

 

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Farming, by Gabe Brown

Renewables Offer Rural America the Economic Development Opportunity of a Generation

By Katie Siegner, Rocky Mountain Institute

The prospect of a deeply decarbonized electricity system raises important considerations and questions. What does the industry’s growth mean for rural America, where most onshore wind and utility-scale solar projects will be sited? How will the US electric grid maintain reliability with high percentages of variable renewable generation? How can we plan new clean energy projects to minimize consumer costs? RMI’s newest report, Seeds of Opportunity, addresses the first question, with subsequent reports planned for those that follow.

As the endpoint of a zero-carbon America becomes more clearly defined, the intent of this report series is to provide a playbook for those who will lead the United States in that direction, from the Biden administration, to grid operators, to county commissioners making renewables siting decisions. Read more here.

Download Seeds of Opportunity: How Rural America Is Reaping Economic Development Benefits from the Growth of Renewables

At the same link, directly above, register for a webinar on February 10 from 11 am to 12 pm with the authors of the Seeds of Opportunity report and community leaders from its three case studies, who will discuss how to effectively foster wind and solar project developments locally. The event will take place via Zoom. An email confirmation will be sent containing the Zoom link to join. 

The Expert Take: Katherine Hamilton on our energy transition

Generation 180 Interview

At Generation180, we’re working to inspire and equip individuals to get involved in the energy transition. It’s complex and it’s big. So to provide a better sense of where we’re headed, we’re providing a deeper dive into what’s happening with this transition—where are we right now, how far we’ve come, and, most importantly, where we need to go.

As part of our online Boot Camp project, we recently spoke with Katherine Hamilton, an energy expert with over 30 years of industry experience. Katherine has worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently the chair of 38 North Solutions and former co-chair of a World Economic Forum council on advanced energy technology. Here [is] what’s on Katherine’s mind and what she sees as the role of “everyday energy leaders.” Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENERATION 180

SUSTAINABILITY JOBS

Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree, Earth911

GREEN SCHOOLS

Iowa City schools anticipate cutting carbon emissions in half in five years, Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City schools appear on track to reduce carbon emissions by more than 45% by 2030, the goalpost student climate activists have pushed for in Iowa City, according to a consultant’s report.  But the report indicated that reducing carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2050, another goal pushed for by climate activists, will require the district to take action.

REGENERATIVE FARMING & CLIMATE RESILIENCY

Black farmers embrace and implement solutions for climate resiliency, by Leah Penniman, Co-Director Soul Fire Farm, GreenBiz

Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator, soil steward and food justice activist. She is co-director and program manager of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.


RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP)

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Program Status: Open
Program Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

NEW REPORT

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Environment America releases 2020 state legislative agenda priorities, News Release
State affiliates of Environment America, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, delivered meaningful progress on several environmental and public health issues in 2019. But given the obstacles that still exist at the federal level on those issues and more, states will have to continue to lead in 2020. Here is a roundup of the top issues and bills that Environment America’s 29 state affiliates will be working on across the country this coming year:

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2020 will be a key year (and decade) for electric vehicles, GreenBiz
This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act will improve the state’s economic climate

By Christine Hicks, Environmental Defense Fund

A recent study developed by The Accelerate Group measured the economic impact of CEJA and found the answer — it’s tens of billions of dollars. The new economic impact report released by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition shines a light on just how much CEJA would contribute to the state’s economy. Here’s the bottom line: the legislation, if enacted, would result in $39 billion in new private investment in Illinois through 2030. Read more here. 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Solar Plus Storage as Resiliency: Friday, December 13, 9 to 9:45 a.m. 
As part of Michigan Energy Options’ Winter Solar Webinar Series, Seth Mullendore, Vice President and Project Director for Clean Energy Group, will discuss how solar PV with battery storage can create resiliency in communities and replace traditional power plants with clean technologies. 

Register here.

NEW STUDY

Biased capacity markets accelerating gas over solar, storage, PV Magazine
Regional markets for energy capacity favor new gas generation over solar and storage, at a high cost to consumers. Eight U.S. Senators have taken notice, while a new report marshals the evidence. The Grid Strategies report, titled Too much of the wrong thing: the need for capacity market replacement or reform, was written by Rob Gramlich and Michael Goggin. The Sustainable FERC Project, which commissioned the report, is a partnership among 24 citizens’ groups.

WOMEN IN AG LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

Generations of leadership is focus of Women in Ag Leadership Conference, LeMars Daily Sentinel
Iowa State alumnus Elizabeth Burns-Thompson is the capstone speaker. Among the nation’s first cohort of 30 Under 30 leaders in agriculture, she is passionate about Iowa’s renewable energy. She will encourage women of all generations to follow their dreams and trust their own abilities and opportunities. Online registration is available at www.aep.iastate.edu/leadership
General registration is $60 and student registration is $30.

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES

RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE RESOURCES

NRECA’s Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) Resources
NRECA Electric Cooperatives & Solar
NRECA Electric Cooperatives & Community Solar
NRECA Electric Cooperatives & Wind

FEATURED HOLIDAY WISH LIST

2019 holiday wish list: Power sector edition, Utility Dive 
With the holiday season upon us, many kids — and some adults — are making wish lists. In that spirit, Utility Dive queried a dozen industry and environmental/advocacy groups about their policy wish list.

Rural America is ready for some sort of a New Deal, preferably green

By Art Cullen, Published by The Guardian and Republished by Yahoo! News

The Midwest would welcome a New Deal, and this is where it must start. The Great Plains from Iowa down through Kansas and Texas lead the world in wind energy production. Yet the wind energy production tax credit is set to wane and expire over the next five years. Those wind turbine royalties are increasingly important in western Kansas where you can barely raise a corn crop even with irrigation because of soil degradation and warmer nights wrought by climate change. Wind energy technicians who keep the blades whirring are paid good union wages and are welcome residents in tiny Iowa villages. They could ply their trade in West Virginia as well. Read the entire article here.

Art Cullen is editor of the Storm Lake Times in Iowa and won the 2017 Pulitzer prize for editorial writing. Cullen is the author of the book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper (Viking 2018).

Spring Deadline for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Applications: Includes information on incentives for solar and small wind.

The spring deadline to apply for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants is April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year round. REAP assists agricultural producers and rural small businesses in reducing energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.

A 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system installed in 2015 powers the Hammond family farm operations west of Benedict, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Matt Ryerson / Lincoln Journal Star

Rick Hammond’s array cost $84,864 in 2015, but a combination of a USDA grant and federal tax credits brought the cost to him down to $19,100. Source: Farms flexing solar power, Lincoln Journal Star. Installers: MarLin Wind & Solar and North Star Solar Bears

Additional Recommended Reading

 

Rick Hammond and his family are the subjects of This Blessed Earth, the One Book, One Nebraska pick for 2019. Ted Genoways’ award-winning book is
also this year’s All Iowa Reads Selection.

 

More Farm Energy Resources