During a town hall meeting in North Carolina on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $772.6 million in funding for projects promoting rural growth, including high-speed internet, clean water, and community facilities. The bulk of the money, $664.2 million, would go to rural water and sewer projects across the country.
President Biden will open his administration’s “investing in rural America” blitz on a Minnesota farm on Wednesday with the announcement of $5 billion in funding for soil and water conservation, rural infrastructure, and economic development. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the $1.7 billion allotted for stewardship was the largest single-year injection of money ever into USDA conservation programs.
In a bid to strengthen local and regional food systems and help small and midsized farms and food businesses reach new markets and resources, the USDA is creating a dozen new regional food centers, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday. (No paywall)
In the biggest USDA broadband announcement of the year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that 49 projects will receive $759 million to bring high-speed internet access to rural communities from North Carolina to California. With the new funding, the USDA has awarded $1.6 billion through the third round of ReConnect grants and loans this year.
The United States loses an average of 17,000 beef producers each year, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott in filing legislation that would increase USDA support of small producers and help them find local and regional markets for their beef. "We believe we are on the right track," Scott told reporters last week.
The USDA has awarded $401 million in grants and loans to 21 projects in 11 states, from Alaska to Texas, to provide residents and businesses with access to high-speed internet service, announced the Biden administration on Thursday.
The U.S. government will put field staff in more than two dozen rural communities to provide an on-the-ground link between local leaders and federal economic development programs, said the White House on Wednesday. The Rural Partners Network will be run by USDA but will have a "whole of government" approach, working with 10 federal departments, the EPA and the Small Business Administration, and will expand to all 50 states if Congress provides additional funding.
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.
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.
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.
The White House is currently vetting possible nominees for key sub-cabinet positions at the USDA, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a teleconference on Thursday. "I suspect we will be seeing nominees soon on some of those vacancies."
Three months ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the USDA would commit $500 million to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and create a more competitive livestock market. "I believe it is going to leverage literally billions of dollars in investment from investors and local governments," said Vilsack at a meat locker plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Projects in 12 states will receive a combined $167 million in USDA grants and loans to deploy broadband infrastructure in parts of rural America lacking sufficient access to high-speed internet service, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.
President Biden said the $1.2-trillion infrastructure package negotiated with senators on Wednesday will "deliver high-speed internet to every American home" as well as repairing or rebuilding roads and bridges nationwide.
The Biden administration could "impose a significant financial burden" on farm families with its proposal for stricter application of capital gains taxes, said House Agriculture chairman David Scott on Wednesday. Scott also said any increase in estate taxes "for those taking over farmland is untenable."
Thirty Democrats in the House and Senate, in a letter to congressional leaders working on broad-scale climate and infrastructure legislation, called for "a substantial investment in farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the climate solution."
Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee on Thursday proposed a three-year program with $7.35 billion in funding to bring broadband access to rural America. The bill would focus on the most remote and least served areas.
Lawmakers should increase funding for the USDA's land stewardship programs as part of the administration's infrastructure bill because funding will probably be tight when Congress writes the 2023 farm bill, dozens of farm, conservation, and environmental groups said in a letter.