USDA Rural Development State Director Chuck Banks announced today that the Agency will host an informational conference covering funding opportunities offered under "The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program." The meeting will be held April 29, starting at 1 p.m. at the Saline County Livestock & Expo Center, 4-H Building, 900 Greeley, in Salina.

"The development of renewable energy is a key component of President Bush's overall energy strategy which includes reducing America's dependence on imported oil. "The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program" provides Kansas farmers and ranchers, along with rural businesses and individuals, the opportunity to harness the untapped renewable energy resources available on farms and fields across our state. The program can also provide increased economical development opportunities for Kansas," commented State Director Banks.

As part of the 2002 farm bill, the Agency's "The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program," provides funding to support these types of projects in rural America. The anticipated funding for this year will be approximately $23 million. The program is administered by USDA Rural Development, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will be presenting actual on-site exhibits and models of renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment, products and technology. Information and/or exhibits on wind energy, photovoltaic systems, methane digester systems, other biomass/biogas systems, and many other product and technologies for both renewable and energy efficiency projects will be shown. NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's premier laboratory for renewable energy research, development and deployment, and a leading laboratory for energy efficiency.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, the Agency provides equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure in rural America.

For additional information regarding USDA Rural Development programs, individuals may call the Agency's state headquarters at 785-271-2702 or log onto the state's Rural Development website at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ks.

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