July 2005

Workshops target rural and agricultural communities

In an effort to help farmers, ranchers and small businesses apply for grants offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Bill, FSEC conducted two free workshops in May throughout Florida.

Jennifer Szaro
Jennifer Szaro, Farm Bill Workshop Coordinator
(Photo: Steven C Spencer )

As part of a grant received from the U.S. Department of Energy's Million Solar Roofs Initiative, the workshops in Tallahassee and in Stuart examined qualifying renewable energy systems and energy efficient improvement projects. In addition, every aspect of the application process was reviewed using a sample application. To further clarify requirements, a question and answer session concluded the workshop.

"The application process to receive funding is somewhat tedious and can be discouraging to many individuals. These workshops were offered in an effort to clarify the process," said Jennifer Szaro, workshop coordinator and Senior Energy Analyst from FSEC.

Each course attracted about 20 attendees. Participants included not only farmers and rural businesses, but also employees from county government offices, electric cooperative utilities and county extension offices.

Last year, no one from Florida applied to the program. This year several applicants had shown interest by the June 27 th deadline. "We're pleased with the progress made this year, but next year we'll work harder to spread the word that we're here to help," noted Szaro.


The Rural Business section of the Farm Bill of 2002 authorized $115 million in funding authority through 2007 for a new grant, loan, and loan guarantee program to assist farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses in buying renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements. The 2007 Farm Bill is currently being developed.