The Secretary of Agriculture (referred to in this section as the “Secretary”) may, out of user fee funds or funds appropriated to any agency of the Department, pay for lodging expenses, subsistence expenses, and transportation expenses of a student intern at the agency (including expenses of transportation to and from the student intern’s residence at or near the institution of higher education attended by the student intern and the official duty station at which the student intern is employed).
Notwithstanding chapter 63 of title 31, the Secretary may enter into cooperative agreements on an annual basis with 1 or more associations of institutions of higher education (as defined in section 1001 of title 20) for the purpose of providing for Department participation in internship programs for graduate and undergraduate students who are selected by the associations from students attending member institutions of the associations and other institutions of higher education.
An internship program supported under this subsection (referred to in this subsection as an “internship program”) shall provide work assignments for students within the Department and such other activities as the association that enters into the cooperative agreement under paragraph (1) with respect to the internship program (referred to in this subsection as the “cooperating association”) and the Secretary shall determine. The nature of Department participation in an internship program shall be developed jointly by the Secretary and the cooperating association.
A cooperative agreement entered into under paragraph (1) shall specify the number of students that the Department will host each year and a list of work assignments to be provided for the students.
From such amounts as the Secretary determines are available each fiscal year for internship programs, and subject to such regulations as the Secretary may issue, the Secretary may reimburse a cooperating association for the Department share of all direct and indirect costs of an internship program, including student stipends, transportation costs to the internship site, and other costs of an internship program.
The Secretary may designate a lead agency within the Department to carry out this subsection.