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USDA puts $394 million into infrastructure in rural areas

Some 2 million people in small towns and rural communities will benefit from projects to improve housing, healthcare and infrastructure in eight states and Puerto Rico, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. Vilsack announced $394 million in grants, loans and loan guarantees for 52 projects through the Rural Partners Network.

The largest award was $140.6 million in loans and guarantees to Georgia Transmission Corporation, a cooperative in the Atlanta suburbs, for electrical infrastructure in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Funds also went to projects in Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia and Puerto Rico.

Launched in April 2022, the Rural Partners Network is run by the USDA with a “whole of government” approach to helping communities tap economic development resources. Communities are selected to participate in the network based on factors that include economic distress.

Also on Monday, the USDA announced $265 million in cost-share funding for 28 Emergency Watershed Protection infrastructure projects in 16 states. Projects include streambank stabilization, flood prevention and watershed restoration. The Natural Resources Conservation Service said an additional $135 million was available for buyouts in limited resource areas, “which can help communities impacted by constant flooding or severe erosion due to a natural disaster.”

The USDA homepage for the Rural Partners Network is available here.

Information about the Emergency Watershed Protection program is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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