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USDA Announces Funding to Increase Access to Education, Workforce Training and Health Care Opportunities in Rural Communities

Jessica Mancel
Stevens Point
Release Date

Wisconsin Rural Development State Director Frank Frassetto announced today that USDA is awarding grants for 128 projects to increase access to job training, educational and health care services in rural areas.

“These services provide access for those who live and work in rural areas which can reduce the barriers of time and distance to deliver quality care, training and education,” Frassetto said. “Distance learning and telemedicine technology helps bridge the “digital divide” ensuring rural residents have access to modern, 21st Century communications technology that is essential for rural prosperity.”

USDA is awarding $39.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. More than 4.5 million residents in 40 states and three territories will benefit from the funding.

In Wisconsin, Western Wisconsin Health is partnering with Eagle Telemedicine, LLC to provide telemedicine access for remote patients in St. Croix County, Wisconsin. The emphasis of this project will be on the treatment and prevention of opioid misuse. They are receiving $85,646 to purchase telemedicine equipment, which includes two telemedicine carts, to create a telehealth network. One telemedicine cart will be used to provide services for the medical/surgical unit at Western Wisconsin Health, facilitating medical care for hospitalized patients. The other telemedicine cart will support telemedicine evaluation services for patients admitted from the emergency department. 

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. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/wi.