Jane Marsh – Co-Op offering low interest loans to farms for clean energy investments
The Funding the Good Loan Fund offers $1 million to Wisconsin farms. Interest rates are low, which means that farmers can participate in the project without worrying about investing too much. Organic Valley hopes to add solar electric systems and geothermal cooling and heating systems to farms across the state.
Benefits abound for dairy farmers
With a switch to renewable energy, dairy farmers could run their farms the same way they do now. They require a significant amount of power to operate, and solar panels would easily provide more than enough power. Some of the requirements include power for milk plate coolers, lighting in barns and other buildings, and electricity to run the milking system itself.
If dairy farmers accepted this low-interest loan, they would also be helping the environment. Renewable energy reduces fossil fuel emissions and the supply is inexhaustible, so farmers never have to worry about a power outage.
In addition, farms would benefit economically. Interest rates on this loan are low and renewable energy will also reduce taxes. Farms can generate an additional revenue stream if they install renewable energy. The extra money would help in a number of ways, including creating healthier food plots for livestock, adding more storage and installing additional solar panels.
A growing interest in renewable energies
More than ten farms have already applied for this loan. Farmers are realizing that they need to invest in renewable energy to have a sustainable future in agriculture. As interest in the program grows, Organic Valley should donate more money to fund the project.
Once a few farms in the Wisconsin area join the project, other farmers will see how well it works and want to invest in renewable energy. Farms that have already implemented solar have done three times more income only if the crops filled their land.
Agriculture has seen a change in its practices over the past few decades, so there is no reason why farms should not follow the trend of solar and geothermal energy. Small family businesses are no longer as common as they are replaced by larger corporations. However, small farms have something to learn from large corporations embracing sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
How Loans Work
Although there is $1 million available for these small farms, Organic Valley needs to allocate the money wisely so that as many places as possible can participate. The Organic Valley Cooperative works with nearly 2,000 farmers across the country, and this investment in Wisconsin dairy farms will only add to that number.
Loans for energy-efficient materials, such as plate coolers, light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, ventilation and insulation, will be available for terms of three, five and ten years. Interest will be a maximum of 4.24%and each farm that takes out a loan will have a maximum of $25,000.
Farmers who would prefer to have the solar electricity system would get loans with terms of 12, 15 and 20 years. The goal is to keep interest rates below 5% and the maximum loan amount available is $90,000.
Investing in clean energy is investing in the future
The future of agriculture will become sustainable and healthy as more farmers invest in clean energy. Those who undertake this initiative will see the benefits almost immediately and pave the way for the next generation of farmers. Farms, the environment and production will all benefit from this investment in green energy.