Farmers get 'energy boost' from USDA grants
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WASHINGTON -- A Washington County garden center is among a dozen Pennsylvania businesses getting a boost from the federal government.
Bedner's Farm and Greenhouse in McDonald will get a $16,300 federal grant to help replace oil-fired heaters with a high-efficiency, gas-fired combustion system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday. Owners Bob and Sue Bedner, their son Russ and daughter-in-law Melanie will have to come up with the balance to fund the $65,200 project aimed at conserving energy, reducing the carbon footprint and cutting utility costs by an estimated $20,000 a year.
The grant is part of $7 million worth of grants for 450 projects the USDA awarded Monday through its Rural Energy for America Program. The awards came in amounts ranging from about $2,000 to $332,000 to pay for projects including grain dryers, wind turbines, irrigation motor replacements, geothermal systems and solar-powered water tanks for livestock.
Even the small awards are important to the businesses that received them, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call with reporters. For some, they made the difference in being able to go forward with energy-efficient upgrades that will pay off in the long run, he said.
The USDA estimates that Bedner's conversion will reduce greenhouse gases by 84 metric tons per year. That's equivalent to the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by 16.5 cars over the course of a year, according to conversion calculators on the Environmental Protection Agency's website.
Melanie Bedner, whose name appears on the grant application, could not immediately be reached Monday.
According to Bedner's website, the family business operates 15 greenhouses and several produce fields.
The grant program, initiated in the 2008 Farm Bill, helps farmers, ranchers and small rural businesses make energy-efficient improvements.
For more information including a list of all recipients, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov.
First Published June 28, 2012 5:20 am