New round of agriculture grants helps support fertilizer manufacturing, energy efficiency in rural Kentucky

Republished from WEKU.

A new round of grant funding will see rural Kentucky businesses across central and eastern Kentucky be more energy efficient and help boost domestic fertilizer production.

That includes $$800,999 going towards Bandana Ag Incorporated in Ballard County through the USDA’s Fertilizer Production Expansion Program. The money will help expand its dry fertilizer facility, which would be distributed to more than 150 local producers.

Tom Carew is the USDA’s Director of Rural Development for Kentucky. He says the Fertilizer Production Expansion Program is meant to grow a shrinking number of producers across America and curb a monopoly from larger companies.

“The philosophy, generally speaking, behind all of that is the more people producing, the better it is for the markets, for the farmers, because competition creates sharper prices,” Carew said.

Another round of Rural Energy for America grants totalling $1.1 million is also going to help small businesses install their own solar arrays and upgrade their heating, air conditioning and ventilation.

Scott Maas is the USDA’s program director for Rural Business and Cooperative Services. He says they’ve been mostly getting applications related to solar energy, and from a variety of different job creators.

“We are seeing a diverse selection of applicants, from ag producers to small businesses in very rural areas in eastern Kentucky, throughout the state,” Maas said. “Solar is right now the definitely the low lying fruit, as they say, when it comes to energy efficiency, renewable technology.”

Maas also credits the amount of grants awarded to the money the agency has been allocated this fiscal year.

“The allocation to Kentucky for example, typically, we only have about a million dollars per year, we’re projecting to have well over $16 million available in fiscal year 2024,” Maas said. “So the demand for the program is very strong. We currently have over 40 applications that we’re processing, requesting quite a bit of money. So it does appear that we will be able to use that money, if not be oversubscribed.”

A full list of grant recipients is available on the USDA’s website.

Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.