Weekly Column

Iowa’s solar compromise serves as national model

After a lengthy fight during the 2019 Iowa legislative session, a unique coalition of agriculture and environmental groups joined forces with MidAmerican Energy, the state’s largest investor-owned utility, to negotiate a consensus agreement to expand solar energy in Iowa.

President’s budget proposals would hurt rural America

Details on President Trump’s 2021 budget plan were released recently and, as it has in the past, this administration continues to put forth proposals that undercut rural communities.

Among the proposed cuts we strongly oppose are those to the Conservation Stewardship Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and authorized by the farm bill. This program offers invaluable support for farmers and ranchers to build on their existing conservation efforts and the cuts would block an important path they rely on to improve their soil health and water quality.

Grant funding available for producers looking to diversify their operations 

Agricultural producers interested in diversifying and taking on a new element to their operation are encouraged to apply for a Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA Rural Development has $37 million in grant funding available for this program in 2020. Individuals and groups of producers can apply for grants up to $75,000 for planning, and $250,000 for implementation and working capital.

Renewable electric grid making economic impact in rural areas

The last decade has seen a drastic shift in the way the U.S. generates electricity.

We have shifted from relying primarily on fossil fuel burning power plants to a thriving clean energy industry that supplies renewable, low-cost electricity to consumers. A combination of demand from customers and diminishing technology costs have helped wind and solar projects sprout up across the country, and with them has come a range of economic benefits.

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