This afternoon, USDA Rural Development in South Dakota convened a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) meeting in Sioux Falls. Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager addressed the group of 25 stakeholders. Tonsager shared with the group that over the next couple of months, USDA Rural Development will be convening a total of 47 energy roundtables with stakeholders across the country to talk about energy opportunities.
“Our country is moving more and more toward renewable energy sources,” stated Tonsager. “Those of us at USDA want to stand up that renewable energy industry in America’s rural backyard, and we want to work with all of you to make it happen.”
South Dakota has shown its strength in the renewable energy arena with hydro and wind power. These projects create a win-win situation. They’re good for the environment; they reduce our reliance on foreign oil; and they’re good for the economy.
The group also heard from past REAP recipient and Senior Vice President of American Coalition for Ethanol Ron V. Lamberty. The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is the grassroots voice of the U.S. ethanol industry, the nation’s largest association dedicated to the production and use of ethanol.
ACE is a non-profit, membership-based organization of more than 1,500 members nationwide, including: ethanol producers, farmers, investors, the agriculture community, industry suppliers, rural electric cooperatives, and others supportive of the increased production and use of ethanol across America.
In conjunction with the meeting, Under Secretary Tonsager and South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks awarded Jackson Winery and Vineyards, L.L.C. dba Belle Joli’ Winery with a business assistance grant funded through the Value Added Producer Grant program. Co-owner Matthew Jackson and his wife Choi were on-site for the presentation. The working capital grant will allow the business to expand and tap into new markets for its products and services.
On Saturday, February 18, Tonsager will participate in the South Dakota Farmer’s Union Convention held in Huron. He will provide an update on the work Rural Development is doing to ensure that our rural communities are strong and sustainable now and well into the future. USDA remains committed to rebuilding and revitalizing rural America.
To learn more about USDA energy programs and how to apply, click here.