USDA Rural Development Funding Helps Improve Essential Services in Rural Iowa

Contact: Darin Leach
(515) 284-4747

Annette Sweeney, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa, today announced four USDA Rural Development funding awards totaling $5.7 million that will help improve a wide variety of essential services for rural Iowans across the state.  

The four Iowa projects described below are part of nearly 400 projects assisted by USDA Rural Development and announced by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today that provide essential services for more than 7 million people in rural areas across the country.

“Our rural communities are the heartbeat of Iowa and bring to the state a workforce dedicated to innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Annette Sweeney, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa. “USDA Rural Development is focused on making infrastructure improvements in rural America, enhancing strategic partnerships and embracing innovation to continue to increase economic opportunity and create jobs in rural communities and areas.”

Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, received a $4,950,000 USDA Rural Development loan to help purchase the privately-owned student housing complex located on school property which is currently leased from a private company. This purchase will result in significant cost savings to the university.

The City of Barnes City, population 173, received a $150,000 USDA loan to assist with the purchase of a newer, larger fire truck to replace their 36-year-old pumper truck.  The 18-person volunteer department covers a 100 square-mile area providing services to around 650 people.

“Included in our service territory is a 3,000-acre state hunting and fishing reserve that provides challenging terrain for our department,” said Mike Doonan, fire chief, Barnes City. “It is important that we are always looking for opportunities to update our vehicles and equipment so we are even more prepared to assist when that next call comes.”

Avera Health was awarded a $484,271 grant to help implement a telehealth project to enhance labor and delivery and post-partum services for mothers and their babies. The end-user sites include the four rural Iowa hospitals of Avera Holy Family Hospital in Estherville, Floyd Valley Healthcare in Le Mars, Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake and Sioux Center Health in Sioux Center, along with hospitals in South Dakota and Minnesota.

New equipment will be able to monitor a baby’s heart rate, which is a critical indicator of fetal health during the birthing process. When necessary, the baby’s heart rate information can be transported to Avera Health 24 hours a day, where specialists can assist at a critical time for mother and baby. 

Avera Health was also awarded a $128,045 grant to help Avera Health for an advanced telehealth project to provide access to telehealth pharmacy services.  Avera will connect to end-user sites in Osceola County in Iowa, along with sites in South Dakota and Minnesota.

The project will provide telehealth programs with 24-hour pharmacist support for review of medication orders.  This is a critical step to prevent medication errors related to allergies, drug interactions and incorrect dosages. 

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, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.

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.

Contact USDA Rural Development

Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting or by calling (515) 284-4663.

USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas.  Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.

Last Modified: 04/16/2018