Department Supports Prosperity in Rural Communities through New Investments in Critical Infrastructure and Food Supply Chain
ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 28, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced more than $230 million in USDA investments to help build and improve rural infrastructure, create new job opportunities, and support Minnesota’s local food supply chain.
“USDA invests in rural America because we know strong communities are rooted in their people,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Powering people with modern infrastructure creates good-paying jobs and supports opportunities for people to build brighter futures. The investments we’re announcing today demonstrate the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to ensuring that people who live and work in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed – and that they can find those opportunities right at home.”
The funding announced today advances President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, to grow the American economy from the middle out and bottom up – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good-paying jobs and building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.
USDA Rural Development Minnesota State Director Colleen Landkamer added, “All investments made to support the security of our food supply chain and ensure our rural communities have safe, modern infrastructure are essential for growing the prosperity in rural Minnesota. USDA remains committed to these priorities through our partnerships with innovators in these fields, without which these investments wouldn’t be possible.”
During a roundtable with producers and businesses at The Good Acre today, Secretary Vilsack highlighted 41 new investments across several key programs that support a wide range of agricultural interests in Minnesota. For example:
- USDA is guaranteeing nearly $4.1 million through the Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program to help Benson & Turner Foods Inc. develop a 6,800-square-foot beef and pork meat-processing facility in Waubun, Minnesota. The facility will consist of a slaughterhouse and retail area featuring individual and sub-primal packing and boxed meat for transport to grocery stores, food programs, schools, and other customers. Rural Development has also invested funds in this project through the Meat and Poultry Production Expansion Program (MPPEP).
- USDA is providing a $1.5 million Rural Economic Development Loan (REDLG) for intermediary Consolidated Telephone to help Farmers Union Foundation purchase a mobile meat slaughtering and processing trailer. The equipment will be used for direct instruction at Central Lakes and Ridgewater Colleges, hosting apprenticeships, and informal peer-to-peer education. Due to the significant supply chain bottleneck in meat processing, Farmers Union will also operate the meat processing system in Cass, Crow Wing, Todd, Wadena, and Morrison counties.
Today’s investments also include funding that will help rural cooperatives and utilities build and improve rural electric infrastructure and increase electric grid reliability and security. It will also build or improve essential community infrastructure, and it will provide clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater systems in rural areas for years to come.
- The city of Silver Lake is using a $2.8 million loan through the Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program to repair the streets in areas where phase one of a three-phase water and wastewater infrastructure project are occurring. The city is leveraging these funds with financing through the Water & Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to rehabilitate existing wells and replace the water distribution system, sanitary sewer collection mains, and storm mains throughout two-thirds of the city – damaging much of the city’s street infrastructure in the process.
- USDA is providing an $82.4 million loan through the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to help Lake Country Power connect 2,290 consumers and build and improve 415 miles of line. This loan includes smart grid technologies in the amount of $8,671,800. Lake Country Power is headquartered in Cohasset, Minnesota, and serves over 50,300 customers over 8,376 miles of line in eight counties in the rural lake's region of northeastern Minnesota.
USDA is making the investments through the Electric Loan Program, Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant Program, Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees Program, Community Facilities Program, Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.
About USDA Rural Development
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.8 million residents living in rural Minnesota. Office locations include a state office in Alexandria, Baxter, Bemidji, Cambridge, Detroit Lakes, Faribault, Marshall, St. Paul, Thief River Falls, Virginia, Willmar, and Worthington.
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