rural development

USDA awards $196 million for local food production and marketing

As part of President Biden's initiative to strengthen U.S. supply chains, the Agriculture Department announced $196 million in grants, loans, and loan guarantees to projects to expand domestic food and agriculture production on Monday. The awards range from loan guarantees to expand a nut processing plant in California and develop a 35-acre tomato greenhouse and processing plant in South Carolina, to 170 smaller grants across the country.

In Minnesota, Biden says rural revival is his plan

President Biden said he is responding to decades of decline in farm numbers and "hollowed out" rural communities with projects to diversify farm income and to encourage local food production and marketing. "It's about making things in rural America again," said Biden on a farm in southern Minnesota on Wednesday.

Biden to launch two-week “investing in rural America” blitz

After three rounds of promoting Bidenomics this fall, President Biden will launch an “investing in rural America” blitz at a farm in southern Minnesota on Wednesday to call attention to the billions of dollars being spent on rural development and agricultural projects. Rural voters increasingly …

Austin Scott’s brief bid for speaker spotlights futility of rural leaders

Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, was shunted aside by fellow Republicans in his one-day bid to become speaker of the House. Scott, a mainstream conservative, said he would support Rep. Jim Jordan, who won the GOP nomination on a 121-81 vote, when the House votes this week on a successor to Kevin McCarthy.

Rural broadband projects get $667 million in USDA backing

The White House announced $677 million in grants and loans today for high-speed internet service in rural areas of 22 states and the Marshall Islands. With the fourth round of funding, the USDA has put $3.1 billion into 179 rural broadband projects through its ReConnect program in less than two years.

Climate, broadband among farm bill goals of New Democrat Coalition

The new farm bill should encourage rural economic development by making high-speed internet widely available and build on historic investments in carbon sequestration, said a group of center-left House Democrats.

White House boosts spending on rural electrification

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced more than $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities to expand rural electrification, which it said was the single largest investment in the sector since President Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law in 1936.

Cost-share grants for rural renewable energy

The USDA will award up to $1 billion in grants to help farmers and rural small businesses install renewable energy systems or make energy-efficiency improvements to their property, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Chairman’s priorities: ‘Production’ agriculture, rural revitalization

In a camaraderie-filled meeting, Chairman Glenn Thompson said that everyone on the House Agriculture Committee was a member “of the farm team,” and his list of priorities for the committee put conventional agriculture and rural development first. “We certainly will have our work cut out for us as far as reauthorizing the farm bill,” he said on Wednesday.

USDA awards $5.2 billion for rural broadband, water and power

Rural infrastructure projects across the country will receive a combined $5.2 billion in federal grants and loans to expand access to high-speed internet, electricity, and clean water, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.

Vilsack says USDA and White House close to deal on biofuel aid

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the administration appeared "very close" to releasing a long-promised $700 million in pandemic aid to biofuel producers. The aid was announced in March as part of a remodeling of coronavirus relief programs by the incoming administration.

The ‘TRIC’ of fostering rural prosperity

Rural communities often look outside of their boundaries for the solution — a new employer or new residents — to their economic doldrums, say the editors of "Investing in Rural Prosperity," published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "We believe rural communities are more likely to achieve these and other common community and economic development goals if ... they build from the inside on the assets they already have," write Daniel Davis and Andrew Dumont.

Infrastructure package will fund high-speed internet throughout U.S.

The $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress over the weekend will upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and ports while making high-speed internet available through the nation, said President Biden. An estimated one-third of rural households lack access to the internet at what the White House described as minimally acceptable speeds.

USDA to spend up to $1.15 billion on rural broadband

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that the USDA would spend up to $1.15 billion to bring high-speed internet services to people living in rural communities. The money would be available in loans and grants to providers who offer service with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second in areas that lack high-speed internet.

One in seven rural Americans lived in poverty during 2020 pandemic

Nearly 6 million people in rural America had incomes below the poverty line during the pandemic year of 2020, an increase of 315,000 from the preceding year, according to a Census Bureau estimate released on Tuesday. The annual Income and Poverty report indicated that one in seven rural residents lived in poverty, compared to the national average of one in nine.

USDA to invest $464 million in renewable energy infrastructure in rural communities

The USDA will invest $464 million to strengthen electric service in rural communities through smart-grid technology and help agricultural producers and businesses add renewable energy systems to lower energy costs and build climate-smart energy capacity in 48 states and Puerto Rico, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday. 

Former Rep. Torres Small is selected to lead rural development at USDA

President Biden chose former Rep Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico to serve as agriculture undersecretary for rural development, overseeing a portfolio of $43 billion in housing, utilities and business and industry programs. Congress overrode a Trump-era reorganization of USDA to re-create the Senate-confirmed post in 2018.

Rural-urban poverty gap narrowed over past decade

The rural poverty rate has exceeded the urban rate ever since the government began tracking both in the 1960s. The difference, 4.5 percentage points in the 1980s, has narrowed to an average of 3.1 points over the past 10 years, said the USDA in updating its rural poverty and well-being webpage.

Rural prosperity official becomes White House ag adviser

Kelliann Blazek, a former congressional staffer who was the first director of Wisconsin's Office of Rural Prosperity, will serve as the agriculture and rural policy adviser to President Biden, announced the White House.

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