USDA to Hire 40 Climate Change Fellows to Boost Clean Energy Funding for Agricultural Sector

U.S. Department of AgricultureImage via USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking a significant step in its fight against climate change, announcing the hiring of 40 Climate Change Fellows to assist with a surge in applications from farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses seeking funding for clean energy projects.

This initiative is part of the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which has witnessed record numbers of applications. The funding for these positions comes from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the country’s largest-ever investment in combating the climate crisis. It forms a key component of ‘Bidenomics’ and the broader Investing in America agenda.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Torres Small highlighted the administration’s commitment to helping as many people as possible access considerable funding to make clean energy improvements. “These innovations will help them increase their income, grow their businesses, address climate change, and lower energy costs for American families,” Small said.

The positions form part of the USDA Climate Change Fellows Program, which recruits new staff with diverse skills to carry out the USDA’s activities to address climate change. The program aims to find solutions to agricultural challenges, enhance economic growth, and create new income streams for farmers, ranchers, and producers. By bringing expertise and fresh perspectives to the federal workforce and expanding the climate consciousness of state offices across the nation, these investments in future agricultural leaders will help attract top talent to address the growing challenges of the agricultural economy.

The Inflation Reduction Act provided REAP with $2 billion of funding to meet the increasing demand from farmers and small business owners looking to expand their use of wind, solar, and other clean energy forms. It also supports energy efficiency improvements that save money and can generate new revenue sources through net metering and power purchase agreements.

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So far, the USDA has made $1.25 billion available and has seen a dramatic increase in grant applications under the program. The program aligns with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims for 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments to flow to disadvantaged and marginalized communities overburdened by pollution.

The new positions are spread across the country, with three reporting to the USDA Rural Development’s national office and two fellows each based in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. One fellow will be located in each of the remaining states, including Puerto Rico.

Initial appointments may last up to two years, with the potential for additional one-year extensions up to four years. Most states will receive additional funds to provide REAP technical assistance in addition to these staffing positions.

This move represents a significant step towards bolstering the agricultural sector’s capacity to transition to clean energy, contribute to climate change mitigation, and foster sustainable economic development. The Climate Change Fellows will play a crucial role in driving this transformation.

To apply, visit this USA Jobs posting.

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