Farms key to renewable energy development, feds say

By Tom Lutey, Missoulian

BILLINGS – Farms have always been hotbeds of invention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is hoping that a needed spark for renewable energy development will come from agriculture.

“With all the great folks who live in rural America, we truly think we’re going to see some things that no one even thought of before,” said Lillian Salerno, USDA deputy undersecretary.

In Billings to kick off a three-day conference on energy, agriculture and forestry, Salerno said there are new programs, underutilized in Montana, to help farms and rural communities develop renewable energy. Namely, the new Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP.