In the series “A’s to Z’s of Grants with Ease”. We will explore Pellets, Equip and REAP.
Pellets are currently being explored by a few of our applicants and are used as a biofuel and sold as a “value-added” commodity. These pellets can be fabricated from corn stover and other waste products. Watch for more about this area of research at the winter conference.
EQIP stands for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which can mean payments to help you improve air, soil, energy, or water quality. In many cases EQIP is harder to get than the REAP, but can be more lucrative if you get it. EQIP now includes program changes authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill, including the following:
• It targets assistance to veteran farmers and ranchers, so please let your grant writer and your NRCS office know if you are a veteran.
• It increases the cap for EQIP funds for benefits received during 2014 – 2018 from $300,000 to a maximum of $450,000, and eliminates waivers to exceed this level.
• It establishes EQIP as a contributing program for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
• It requires at least 5 percent of available EQIP funds be targeted for conservation practices that promote wildlife habitats.
• It incorporates the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program functions.
• The rule also includes a provision that allows the Secretary of Agriculture to waive the requirement that EQIP funds for on-farm irrigation efficiency are only available for lands that have been irrigated for two out of the last five years. This waiver is limited to “historically underserved producers,” including tribal lands.
REAP: The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is administered through the Rural Development Office at the USDA. You might use a REAP grant to pay up to 25% of eligible project costs for new energy-efficient equipment such as grain dryers or grain monitors, irrigation equipment, solar power, wind power, biomass renewable energy projects, and animal housing upgrades. You are only allowed to apply for one energy-efficiency project and one renewable energy project in any given year and you lose points if you’ve been a recent winner. Because of this, you’ll want to look carefully at planned projects and try to pair efficiency projects with renewable energy projects. Remember, you have up to two years from the grant award date to complete your project, so now might be the time to apply for the wind turbine, solar panels, or biomass project you’ve been thinking about. Please let EIM know if you want the intake forms to start the application process. When we get your request, we send a letter explaining details regarding what we need to complete the application for you. You may be disqualified if you start the project or pay for equipment before the 120 page application is turned in to the USDA, but experts at EIM write the application and help you every step of the way. Call us at 317-228-0134.
More in our next issue, where we’ll continue untangling the alphabet soup of grant and subsidy acronyms!