David Fink, owner of Heidel Hollow Farm, described the farm’s energy savings from the 896 panel solar array funded by USDA Rural Development to USDA officials and others gathered at his farm.
The sun shone brightly on the 896 panel solar array at Heidel Hollow Farm in Germansville, Penn., as USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl L. Cook, other USDA officials and guests celebrated the farm’s successful renewable energy project and the announcement of a new USDA Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Report. Heidel Hollow Farm, a family-owned, 1,600 acre hay farm, was awarded two USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants in 2010. The grants were used toward a solar energy project that provides approximately 252,800 KW of electricity used in the hay compressing operation of the farm and an energy efficiency project that replaced one diesel engine with five electric motors, saving over 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. The compactor increases the density of baled hay by 2 1/2 times for more efficient shipping to overseas customers. Read more »
Rural development officials from Hatay Province, Turkey were in the United States recently to learn about USDA Rural Development programs at the national level and in Nebraska. Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettio Lekesiz, Hatay Rural Development Agency Director Savas Ozgursoy and four agency staff were on the delegation tour.
Turkey will soon be joining the European Union and Hatay is one of the 20 Turkish provinces chosen for the first phase of EU assistance to support the establishment of a rural development agency. Hatay is in southeast Turkey, bordering Syria and on the Mediterranean Sea. The first settlement goes back to 40,000 to 9,000 BC when the main city of Antioch was founded by one of Alexander the Great’s generals. Read more »
“Small towns and rural communities need assistance from USDA Rural Development, now more than ever.” That was the consensus of attendees participating in a breakout session at the National Association of Towns and Townships (NATaT) annual meeting in Washington in early September. During and after the session Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook heard accounts of how local Rural Development staff have made a difference in the economic health of rural communities in states including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Many described the positive impact of investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act over the last two years, but expressed concern for the future. Water systems, broadband access, and fire and rescue capabilities were frequently cited as critical foundational investments every community needs. But many said finding private partners willing to lend on affordable terms is a challenge for smaller communities that have a limited tax base. Read more »
Thomas Williams, Pennsylvania Rural Development State Director, talks about the USDA Rural Energy for America Program with Roxanne Molnar, funding recipient (center) and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook. REAP funding enabled Molnar Farms to install computer-controlled radiant heaters to reduce energy costs. Cook and Williams toured the farm earlier this month.
USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook and Thomas Williams, Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director recently conducted a Small Business Council meeting at the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, followed by a visit to Molnar Farms, a local Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) recipient. Roxanne Molnar explained to the USDA officials how $20,000 in REAP funds was used to install computer-controlled radiant heaters and ceiling vents to modernize a 40,000 chicken house to keep the chickens healthy in the extreme heat and cold. Read more »
Farm owners Kurt and Frank Dill speaking to Buddy Hance at a Maryland Earth Day event that was held to highlight the completion of the improvements made to the Worton wastewater system.
A few scattered showers didn’t dampen spirits at a Maryland Earth Day event to highlight the completion of the improved Worton Wastewater Treatment Plant, Tuesday April 19. Read more »
Recently, I joined USDA, Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook, employees of The Progress Fund, and several of their loan recipients for a funding announcement under Rural Development’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). RMAP was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill and the program is already helping many small rural businesses. Under the program, funds are provided to an intermediary who “re-lends” to entrepreneurs. Deputy Under Secretary Cook announced that The Progress Fund, in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, has been awarded a loan and a grant through the program. The Progress Fund has made more than 97 microloans in rural areas. It is expected the assistance provided by this funding will help create or save over 22 jobs. Following the announcement, we all enjoyed products from Emerald Valley Artisans, including a test sample of the new Hills Tavern Blue cheese. Read more »