USDA Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture
On January 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small, recently highlighted a-year of accomplishments to combat climate change and increase resiliency throughout rural America.
“At USDA, we know people in rural communities are on the frontlines of climate change and increasingly face severe weather that threatens their safety, health and livelihoods,” Torres Small said. “By investing in climate-smart infrastructure, rural leaders are taking charge. USDA is proud to invest in locally-driven solutions to create good-paying, lasting jobs and build back better and more resiliently in these rural towns for decades to come.”
USDA Rural Development has taken several steps since January 2021 to address climate change in rural America, including:
- Investing $687 million through the Rural Energy for America Program to help rural businesses purchase and install energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy systems like solar. (www.bit.ly/Rural-climate-change-1)
- Investing more than $47 million in grants across 31 states to add almost a billion gallons of higher blends fuels to the market through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Investment Program. (www.bit.ly/Rural-climate-change-2)
- Investing $241 million in renewable and energy storage loans through the Rural Utilities Service. These investments include 13 solar projects totaling $199.8 million, one $4 million hydroelectric project and one $38 million battery energy storage system.
- Creating a new pilot program to support clean energy in underserved rural communities. The pilot program will be launched early 2022.
- Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the BioPreferred certification and labeling program by adding more than 270 new companies to bring the total to 3,200 companies from 47 different countries. (www.bit.ly/Rural-climate-change-3)
- Unveiling a Disaster Resource Guide detailing assistance available to rural people, businesses and communities impacted by disaster and support for long-term planning and recovery efforts. (www.bit.ly/Rural-climate-change-4)
These and other investments in 2021 have benefitted hundreds of thousands of rural people in every state and U.S. territory. For example, they have helped bring safe water to communities in Alaska, repair hurricane-damaged landfill facilities in Puerto Rico and provide low-cost, clean solar power to people in Illinois and Texas.
In the coming year, USDA Rural Development will continue to strategically focus on integrating climate outcomes into its work by expanding clean and reliable energy generation and increasing renewable fuels production and infrastructure to the benefit of rural and Tribal communities.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.