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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

USDA's climate action fellows to help Ohio farmers/small businesses access clean energy funds

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024   

Ohio will soon get a dedicated person to help farmers, ranchers and other landowners apply for federal grants to help fight pollution and climate change.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would hire 40 people as Climate Change Fellows. They will be assigned to Ohio and other states to help people apply for the Rural Energy for America Program, which has $2 billion in funding for clean energy projects.

Anthony Kirkland, director of business and cooperative programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said each state's Fellow will have specific tasks.

"Helping to provide guidance to the grant recipient, or to the grant writer," Kirkland explained. "They'll also be helping with evaluating the process of an application and helping with monitoring, making recommendations, providing advice to the coordinator."

USDA officials said they saw a need to hire the Fellows after seeing an increase in applications. The program is part of President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act.

The funding is expected to help transform rural power production, with new energy sources through net metering and power purchase agreements. The Fellows will also work with USDA employees on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Kirkland acknowledged there is much work to be done and his office will have its Fellow for a designated time period.

"The short-term goal is to be able to work directly with our REAP coordinators on a daily basis," Kirkland noted. "(The) long-term goal is that this is a two-year position. After that, then it would be probably reevaluated."

The positions can have one-year extensions, for a maximum of four years, depending on the duration of projects. The Rural Energy for America Program is part of the Justice40 Initiative, an administration goal in which 40% of the federal investments will go to marginalized communities.


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