U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is awarding $266 million in loans and grants to agriculture producers and rural small businesses to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements that will lower their energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resilience of their operation.
This funding is made possible in part by the federal Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s largest-ever investment in combatting the climate crisis.
“Creating opportunity for rural communities means investing in farmers, ranchers, and small businesses,” Secretary Vilsack said. “A key pillar of Bidenomics, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is ensuring our producers and business owners are not only a part of the clean energy economy but are directly benefitting from it. These once-in-a-generation investments in renewable energy, like wind and solar, and energy efficient technologies create new markets and deliver real cost savings for our small and mid-sized agricultural operations and Main Street businesses, building and keeping wealth in rural America.”
USDA is investing $266 million in 1,334 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in 47 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The Department is awarding the loans and grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), including funding from the landmark Inflation Reduction Act. California is among the states receiving some of those funds.
Since December 2022, USDA has made up to $1.3 billion available in REAP funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. Eligible applicants include rural small business owners and agricultural producers. The program is part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is working to ensure that 40 percent of the benefits of certain federal investments reach communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.
USDA is making awards in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Guam and Puerto Rico.
The Department expects to make additional awards in the coming months.
USDA continues to accept applications and will hold funding competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. The funding includes $144.5 million for underutilized renewable energy technologies.
The Inflation Reduction Act provides funding to USDA Rural Development to help eligible organizations invest in renewable energy infrastructure and zero-emission systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is designed to boost the long-term resiliency, reliability and affordability of rural electric systems. It will help families save money on utility bills, and it will expand rural opportunities in the clean- energy economy.
For more information on the Inflation Reduction Act, visit: www.rd.usda.gov/inflation-reduction-act.
To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.