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Climate-smart agriculture, infrastructure focus of Biden's $5B rural investment

President Biden announced over $5 billion in new investments from his Investing in America agenda on Wednesday in Minnesota.

Iowa Farm With Wind Turbines 12019 Pixabay
12019 | PIxabay.com

On November 1, President Biden traveled to Northfield, Minnesota to visit Dutch Creek Farms and announce over $5 billion in new investments designed to advance rural prosperity, economic development, competition and sustainability.

According to a statement from the White House, over the course of two weeks, President Biden, cabinet members and senior administration officials are barnstorming across the country as part of the Investing in Rural America Event Series.

The investments will focus on:

$1.7 Billion in Investments in Climate-Smart Agriculture: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing nearly $1.7 billion in funding to support the adoption of climate-smart agriculture practices, which have direct climate mitigation benefits, advance a host of other environmental cobenefits, and offer farmers, ranchers and foresters new revenue streams.

Dutch Creek Farms, where President Biden visited, is a family farm that grows corn and soybeans and raises hogs. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Dutch Creek Farms has used several climate-smart agriculture techniques to make their farm more sustainable, including growing crops that naturally sequester carbon and improve soil quality, farming in a way that limits soil disturbance, and creating riparian buffers to protect nearby waterways from pollutants.

The funding President Biden will announce includes a $1.1 billion investment across 81 projects through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which takes a voluntary approach to expand the reach of conservation efforts and climate-smart agriculture through public-private partnerships.

The announcement also includes fiscal year 2023 investments from the Inflation Reduction Act that are helping farmers adopt climate-smart agriculture practices. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA has enrolled more farmers and more acres in voluntary conservation programs than at any point in history, following a backlog that has existed for years. In 2023, USDA enrolled nearly 5,300 additional producers in conservation programs across all 50 states (above what otherwise would have been possible through Farm Bill and appropriations funding), which will provide significant climate mitigation benefits. Today’s announcement includes:

  • $100 million through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP);
  • $250 million through the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP); and
  • $250 million through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

$1.1 Billion in Investments in Rural American Infrastructure: USDA is announcing $1.1 billion across 104 loan and grant awards to upgrade infrastructure in rural communities that will bring new jobs, clean water and fuel and reliable electricity to people in nearly every state. 

This funding includes $5 million from the Inflation Reduction Act to further increase the availability of renewable, homegrown biofuels

$2 Billion in Investments to Partner with Rural Communities to Create Jobs and Support Rural-led Economic Development: USDA is announcing $2 billion across 99 economic development projects in Rural Partners Network (RPN) communities in nine states and Puerto Rico – funding that will create jobs and build infrastructure as well as increase access to quality health care, affordable housing and clean water and energy.

RPN is transforming the way the federal government partners with rural communities by putting federal employees on the ground to help rural communities access federal resources. Last year, the Biden-Harris Administration launched Rural.gov to help connect all rural communities to federal resources. Today, the administration announced it is piloting a new resource clearinghouse function on Rural.gov with funding opportunities for rural communities to facilitate access to federal programs.

$274 Million to Expand Critical Rural High-Speed Internet Infrastructure: USDA is announcing nearly $274 million across 16 grant and loan awards to expand access to high-speed internet for people living and working across eight states.

These investments include $260 million as part of the fourth round of the ReConnect Program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provided a total of $65 billion to ensure every American has access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.

In total, the Biden-Harris Administration is investing $90 billion to deliver high-speed internet to everyone in America, including in rural communities that often lack access to high-speed internet.

$145 Million to Expand Access to Renewable Energy and Lower Energy Costs for Rural Americans: USDA is announcing $145 million in funding for 700 loan and grant awards through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to help agricultural producers and rural small business owners make energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy investments to lower energy costs, generate new income and strengthen the resiliency of their operations. 

These announcements build on other investments the Biden-Harris Administration has already made:

  • Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has committed $1 billion to expand independent meat and poultry processing capacity to give farmers more market options and fairer prices, and reduce reliance on a small handful of large meat and poultry corporations.
  • USDA has also made available $900 million to spur the production of independent, American-made fertilizer, create jobs in rural America, and give farmers more options. These investments were funded in part by the American Rescue Plan and USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.
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