September 28, 2023

Interpretive Summary: USDA awards small business owners and farmers

USDA awards small business owners and farmers

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced over $265 million in awards to help small business owners, farmers, and ranchers lower their energy costs, create income, and expand operations. The awards are provided through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), as part of the Investing in America Agenda. 

“Creating opportunity for rural communities means investing in farmers, ranchers, and small businesses,” USDA Secretary Tom 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.”  

The REAP provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. 

The program is available to agriculture producers and small businesses. The funding will be divided across 1,334 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in 47 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The program is part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is working to ensure that 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments reach communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.

Examples of the types of projects receiving funding include: 

  • Verde Light Community Solar LLC in Ontario, Oregon will use a $1 million grant to purchase and install a 4.51-megawatt solar photovoltaic renewable energy system. The new system will produce enough energy to power 440 homes per year and is expected to generate $557,000 in income annually for the company
  • D & M Farm Ventures LLC, a chicken broiler operation in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, will use a $130,500 grant to purchase and install a 198-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. This project is expected to generate approximately $10,800 per year
  • Leonard Road Thorndike Solar LLC in Thorndike, Maine will use a $1 million grant to install a 1.58-megawatt solar array expected to offset over 950,700 pounds of coal, reducing carbon emissions by 859 metric tons annually. This project will also help the business generate nearly $358,000 annually

See the full project list here