USDA’s REAP Awards; Bird Flu Help Online
**The latest numbers from USDA Rural Development show the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, which was originally created in the 2002 farm bill, has awarded nearly $3-billion in grants and loan guarantees since it was reauthorized and given substantial funding in the 2008 farm bill.
From 2009 through 2016, more than 11,000 REAP grants totaling over $357 million were awarded, while USDA used the program to guarantee 997 loans totaling $626.7 million.
Ag producers have received the greatest amount of REAP money, some 7,150, compared to 3,870 small rural businesses.
**A poultry disease specialist has designed an online tool to help producers faced with Bird Flu.
Dr. Carol Cardona with the University of Minnesota says the service helps producers navigate through the regulations following an outbreak. She tells Brownfield the goal is to provide peace of mind to producers who are impacted by avian influenza.
Cardona says the service is free, but right now it is only available in Minnesota. A nationwide service is under development and will be available this fall.
**The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced $2.4 million will be awarded to relieve veterinarian shortages and support rural services.
Animal Systems Division Director Adele Turzillo tells Brownfield veterinarian shortages in food animal medicine span across all 50 states. She says the Veterinarian Services Grant Program is designed to provide education and training needed to prepare students to work with food animals in rural areas and enhance rural practices.