Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $97 million in 12 projects to provide or improve rural broadband service in 11 states, including Missouri.
“A person’s location should not determine whether he or she has access to modern communications infrastructure,” Secretary Perdue said. “That is why USDA is partnering with businesses and communities by investing in state-of-the-art broadband e-connectivity to remote and rural areas. These investments will expand access to educational, social and business opportunities for 22,000 subscribers to help grow their rural communities and America’s economy.”
USDA is making the investments through the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program and the Community Connect Grant Program. In Missouri, the Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company, in Green City, is receiving a $13.7 million loan to convert six exchanges from copper plant to fiber-to-the-premises. It will construct nearly 500 route miles of fiber. Northeast Missouri expects to improve service to 1,063 subscribers.
“Rural prosperity can only truly be achieved by connecting rural America to high-speed internet,” said Jeff Case, USDA Rural Development Missouri State Director. “USDA is very pleased to be able to partner with Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company to expand rural Missourians’ access to broadband and we’re excited for the subsequent economic opportunities for these communities.”
The projects USDA is investing in today will help improve the quality of life in rural communities in Arizona, Iowa, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
These investments underscore USDA’s priority to promote rural economic development by centering around three principles: infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Investing in telecommunications infrastructure connects people to each other: businesses to customers, farmers to markets, and students to a world of knowledge.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. As proven by the report, e-connectivity is more than just connecting rural America to the rest of the world. It is a vital tool for productivity, education, and health care. These investments will be key catalysts for facilitating rural prosperity through economic development and workforce readiness, and for improving quality of life.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.