Last updated: August 25. 2013 6:12AM - 669 Views

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says programs promoted by President Barack Obama will benefit farmers in many ways.

“It’s not about reducing costs but creating markets,” Vilsack said. He said extended federal tax credits for wind biofuels are making it easier to produce the fuels in a cost-effective way.

In early January, Congress extended a production tax credit for wind energy on any facility under construction before the end of 2013. The bill also extended a $1.01-per-gallon tax credit for cellulosic ethanol made from corn plants, grasses, algae and sources other than corn kernels. The bill allows ethanol makers to depreciate equipment for new plants placed in service in 2013 and extends biodiesel production tax incentives for two years.

Wind and ethanol perks

In February, Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation director Martin Kuhlman said this tax credit extension will allow the development of wind turbines already planned in the Leipsic area. The bill also affects the Poet Ethanol plant in Leipsic, which produces ethanol from locally grown corn.

“The development of biofuels and research allows those in agriculture to use less productive land and also create multi-cropping,” Vilsack said. “All of this adds significant market value to the agriculture product.

“USDA’s continuing investments in research and development are proving a critical piece of President Obama’s strategy to spur innovation of clean bioenergy right here at home and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The advances made through this research will help to boost local economies throughout rural America, creating and sustaining good-paying jobs, while moving our nation toward a clean energy economy.”

Vilsack said biofuels also are encouraged through the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides small and large grants for farmers, small businesses and ranchers who purchase and install energy efficiency improvements.

Helping homeowners

The Agriculture secretary also said the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent expansion of its refinancing program helps rural homeowners. In late January, the USDA added 15 states to a pilot program that enables USDA home loan borrowers to save on housing costs by refinancing their mortgages with lower interest rates.

Ohio was among the 19 states in the pilot program. Vilsack said the refinancing program compliments Obama’s continuing efforts to help responsible homeowners and boost the nation’s housing markets, helping to stabilize communities and aiding middle class families across the country.

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