This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

July 20, 2005

USDA Guarantees up to $200 Million in Clean Energy Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on July 15th that it is now offering $11.4 million to guarantee loans to farmers, ranchers, and small rural businesses for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The USDA estimates that the funds could guarantee up to $200 million in loans for such projects. Eligible renewable energy projects are those that produce energy or hydrogen from biomass, geothermal, solar, or wind energy sources. The loans can cover at most 50 percent of the project costs, can range from $5,000 to $10 million, and can extend up to 20 years. The loan guarantee funds will be set aside until August 31st, after which they'll be reallocated to the USDA's grant program. See the USDA press release, the full rules on applying for the funds (about halfway down, past the comments), and the USDA Rural Development Web site.

The USDA also announced on July 12th its grants for marketing agricultural products. Two of the grants relate to ethanol fuel production: an $80,000 grant will allow the Montana Department of Agriculture to evaluate ethanol production from sugar beets or from some stage of refining the beets into sugar. In addition, $135,000 will go to the Nebraska Corn Development, Utilization and Marketing Board to survey Midwest livestock producers and feeders to determine their current and future potential usage of dried distillers' grains, a livestock and poultry feed generated as a byproduct of the ethanol production process. See the USDA press release.