WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an investment of $266 million toward helping rural businesses, farmers and ranchers lower energy costs and expand their operations.

“Creating opportunity for rural communities means investing in farmers, ranchers, and small businesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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 $266 million investment will be distributed through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) across 1,334 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in 47 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.

One example of a project receiving funding is D & M Farm Ventures LLC, a broiler chicken operation in Quarryville, Pa., that plans to install a 4.51-megawatt solar photovoltaic renewable energy system. The farm is receiving a $1 million grant to purchase and install the system, which will generate approximately $10,800 annually.

The funding comes in part from the Inflation Reduction Act, which USDA noted was the largest investment to fight climate change in history.

Since December 2022, USDA has made up to $1.3 billion available in REAP funding through the Inflation Reductio Act.

USDA said it will continue to accept applications for grants and will hold funding competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024.