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Tue, Aug 17


Virtual Event

Resiliency Series Session 6: Preparedness and Adaptation in Rural Business Operations

Join USDA economists and clean energy experts Tuesday, August 17th from 6 to 7 PM to discuss how resiliency can be incorporated into rural land use and agricultural practices by diversifying revenue streams through implementation of renewable energy and conservation projects.

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Resiliency Series Session 6: Preparedness and Adaptation in Rural Business Operations
Resiliency Series Session 6: Preparedness and Adaptation in Rural Business Operations

Time & Location

Aug 17, 2021, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Virtual Event

About the Event

The Morris Model team is excited to bring to you a discussion on how our changing weather will provide new challenges and opportunities to rural businesses and agricultural operations, specifically as it relates to risk management and diversification of revenue streams from land use practices.  As our local weather patterns shift to warmer, wetter, and more volatile systems the processes by which federal crop insurance programs and funding resources will have to adapt as well.  Recent policy and legislation at the state and federal levels are including more initiatives and funding programs to promote and facilitate the installation of renewable resources, enhance energy conservation programs, and guide our nation's energy economy through a transition to a more decentralized system.  At the intersection of these realizations is the emerging opportunity for rural communities, farmers, and local governments to take advantage of these changes and position themselves to add reliability and resiliency to their operations by saving on energy costs, earning revenue on energy produced, and add to their local tax base and job markets.

The discussion will kick off with a briefing from David Zanoni, Senior Underwriter at the USDA Risk Management Agency, on how the USDA calculates, designs, and administers the federal crop insurance program.  Learn how payments are estimated and allocated, how they have changed over time, and how they can be reasonably expected to change further in the context of increasing growing seasons experiencing volatile weather such as the current extreme drought.  

Following this will be two presentations from Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Manager at Clean Energy Resource Teams, and Brian Ross, Vice President of the Great Plains Institute, as they discuss the opportunities to diversify rural land use practices to generate cost savings and additional revenue from the development of on-site renewable energy generation technologies or implementing energy efficiency upgrades.  They will provide a run-down of existing policies and programs that can assist  businesses or homeowners in funding these projects, benefits for customers and the local economy, and discuss the zoning and land use implications for larger scale project development.

Speakers of this session include:

David Zanoni has served as the USDA Risk Management Agency’s Senior Underwriter for the last 2 years, providing oversight in program design, risk management, and special projects. Prior to that, he was the Chief of the Requirements, Analysis, and Validation Branch with RMA for 5 years and an economist with the Prices Branch with RMA for 6 years. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech.

Fritz Ebinger is the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) Rural Energy Development  Program Manager for the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable  Development Partnerships and Extension. In this role, he works on energy  efficiency and renewable energy initiatives with agricultural producers  and rural businesses to reduce farm and business production costs and  advance utility conservation planning. Fritz is a graduate of St. John’s  University and served in the Peace Corps as an Agroforestry Volunteer  in Panama. He then attended Drake Law School as a Public Service Scholar  where he focused on agricultural, environmental, and natural resources  law and wrote for the Drake Agricultural Law Journal. Following  graduation and passing the bar, Fritz served as a law clerk in  Minnesota’s Third Judicial District before starting his clean energy career in wind and rural energy matters.

Brian Ross is a Vice President at the Great Plains Institute, leading GPI’s renewable energy market transformation efforts in the Midwest and nationally.  Brian joined the institute after 20 years as a consultant working on sustainable development with local, regional, and state governments on climate and energy planning, policy and regulation.  He currently directs GPI’s technical assistance for the national SolSmart certification program for local governments, helps lead national research efforts on integrating solar development with natural systems and for water quality benefits, and is developing work on non-electric integration of renewable energy systems.

RSVP to get updates! 

Information on the Community Resiliency Discussion Series:

Continuing on the momentum of the Rural Climate Dialogues in 2014 and the creation of the Morris Model Strategic Plan in 2018, the Morris Model team will be facilitating a series of seven monthly, hour-long online discussions with regional experts on the importance of incorporating resilience-minded strategies and forward-thinking, cost-effective investments to improve the readiness of the community for future predicted impacts to the following aspects of the community:

1) Agriculture

2) Outdoor recreation and natural resources

3) Infrastructure and utilities

4) Culture and community identity

5) Business/industry/finance

6) Community Health 

Visit to view the upcoming meetings, see recordings of previous sessions, and learn more about the discussion series, and reach out to with any questions.

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