Spanberger, Rice Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Ability to Charge Electric Pickups & Farm Equipment in Rural America

The “Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for Farmers Act” Would Allow REAP Loans & Grants to Be Used for the Installation of EV Charging Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) — Chair of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee — and Tom Rice (R-SC-07) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help farms and rural communities take advantage of the latest electric pickup trucks and tractors.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) provides financial assistance to farmers, producers, and rural business owners to install renewable energy systems and adopt cutting-edge energy efficiency measures. But much of rural America lacks reliable access to one of the most exciting new developments in the renewable energy space — electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, and REAP funding cannot currently be used to support these physical improvements.

At a hearing of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, Spanberger announced the introduction of the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for Farmers Act. This bipartisan bill would allow REAP funding to be used for installing EV charging infrastructure for light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy-duty EV vehicles — including pickup trucks, combines, and tractors used on American farms. Click here to watch or download Spanberger’s comments.

“As we watch the rapid development and production of new electric vehicles, we need to prevent rural America from getting left behind in the conversation. Electric vehicles of the future are not just for cities — they also stand to deliver major benefits to farms, agribusinesses, and rural communities in Virginia and across the country,” said Spanberger. “Virginia’s crop and livestock producers are ready to seize the opportunities EV technology can provide. The Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure for Farmers Act takes a successful and popular program — the REAP program — and makes sure its funding can be used to support expanded EV charging networks in all of our communities, large and small. This commonsense change would give our farmers and agribusinesses a competitive economic edge, greatly benefit our environment, and establish new markets for homegrown manufacturers of electric pickups, tractors, combines, and more. I am proud to stand with Congressman Rice as we lead the charge to cut red tape, expand EV infrastructure, and help more American farmers keep their operations strong.”

“I’m proud to co-lead this legislation which will help our 7th District farmers and agriculture producers,” said Rice. “While farmers explore ways to be more energy efficient, this legislation will expand the types of systems and equipment eligible for grant funding under USDA’s Rural Energy for America program. If passed, agriculture producers will have greater flexibility to use their grant funds to help electrify both light-duty vehicles and heavy-duty equipment such as pickup trucks, combines, and tractors.”

The Spanberger-Rice legislation is endorsed by the Ford Motor Company, Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Working Group (EWG), and Earthjustice.

“Ford has been working with farmers for more than 100 years. Our relationships with America’s farmers have guided us as we lead the electric vehicle revolution with electric commercial vehicles like the F-150 Lightning pickup truck and E-Transit van,” said Steve Croley, Chief Policy Officer and General Counsel, Ford Motor Company. “We thank Representatives Spanberger and Rice for this important bipartisan step to make EVs more accessible for farmers and rural communities.”

“Rep. Spanberger understands the needs of rural communities and is committed to ensuring they are not left behind as we begin to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country,” said Joe Britton, Executive Director, Zero Emission Transportation Association. “Investing in America’s charging network will deliver economic benefits for consumers and businesses alike, and those benefits should not be limited to urban areas. Whether on the farm or in town, we must seek to drive economic development through electrification.”

“Our rural communities are bearing the brunt of the extreme weather caused by climate change,” said Scott Faber, Vice President for Government Affairs, Environmental Working Group. “We need to use every tool in the toolbox to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, and no one travels more miles than rural residents. EWG applauds Rep. Spanberger for once again making common sense solutions to the climate crisis a top priority.”

“The climate crisis doesn’t differentiate between urban and rural communities, and everyone should be able to benefit from zero-emission technologies to fight climate change and reduce pollution,” said Athena Motavvef, Legislative Representative, Earthjustice. “By expanding the REAP program to cover electric vehicle supply equipment, this legislation ensures that charging infrastructure needed for electric vehicle deployment is equitably distributed to people and industries in rural areas and facilitates greater participation of farming communities in the electrification movement. We applaud this effort by Reps. Spanberger and Rice to build upon previous investments in EV infrastructure and accelerate the deployment of electric vehicles to rural America where private investments are lacking.” 

Click here to read the full bill text.

BACKGROUND

In the last six years alone, REAP has leveraged more than $300 million in public investment to stimulate more than 10 times that amount in private investment — and it has delivered more than $4 billion in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across rural America.

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