The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is funding anaerobic digester projects in eight states to encourage renewable energy production.

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.

One of the biodigesters announced today will be constructed on Heller Farms near Alma Center in Jackson County, WI. It is expected to produce 3.3 million kWh 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.

During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 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% by 2020.

In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA through the REAP program provided nearly $21 million in assistance for biodigesters, and leveraged over $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.

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

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