Agriculture Secretary announces funding for renewable energy pro - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Agriculture Secretary announces funding for renewable energy projects

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HUNTERSVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack toured Metrolina Greenhouses Monday to highlight the company's focus on sustainability.

Vilsack says the agriculture economy is stronger than its ever been with new bio-based companies. Now, he says the key is to take what's learned in rural America and apply it throughout the country.

Meterolina Greenhouses is one of 300 businesses to receive funding from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. It helped the local business turn to a wood burning system for heating and energy consumption.

"By embracing renewable energy they [Metrolina Greenhouses] essentially took themselves out of what the worry of what the cost of oil was going to be and what the cost of heating is going to be..they control their own destiny," Vilsack said.

Vilsack also announced funding for 450 other projects nationwide, including 31 in North Carolina.

In a press release, Vilsack said, "The Obama Administration and USDA are helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners reduce their energy costs and consumption – and by doing so is helping to create jobs, preserve our natural resources, protect the environment and strengthen the bottom line for businesses...This is part of the Administration's "all of the above" energy strategy. Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America."

Vilsack did note such funds are threatened because of folks protective over the oil industry. He says in fact saying there's pressure in Congress to reduce the money of REAP or restrict how it can be used.

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