Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $17.4 million in 41 projects that will provide essential services for rural communities in 22 states.
“Rural America represents a wealth of opportunity– from farms to tourism, forestry, mining and manufacturing,” Hazlett said. “At USDA, our mission is to be a catalyst to bring those opportunities to life – whether building infrastructure, helping communities to attract jobs, accessing additional capital, or improving the quality of life in these towns.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural areas purchase, construct or improve essential facilities. An essential community facility is one that provides a necessary service for the orderly development or operation of a rural community, such as schools, libraries, health care facilities, day care centers and infrastructure improvements. Two projects in South Dakota have been selected to receive $173,000 under this announcement:
Dupree Volunteer Fire Department in Dupree is receiving a $10,000 loan and a $50,000 grant to purchase a heavy duty pickup chassis, flatbed, motor, tank, and pump for the construction of a new wild land fire truck, as well as two new heaters for the fire station. The Dupree Volunteer Fire Department covers a large response area of rural country in Ziebach County, SD. The new truck will replace an aging model and improve the service area coverage for fire suppression activities. The two new heaters will replace old, inefficient heaters and allow the department to keep the equipment warm in the wintertime at a reduced cost.
Buffalo County Rural Fire Protection District #1 in Gann Valley is receiving a $70,400 loan and a $42,600 grant to finance a new brush truck. The District has provided high quality fire protection services for nearly 40 years to Buffalo County, the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, and surrounding communities and counties. The addition of the new brush truck will greatly aid in responding to prairie, equipment, and residential fires as well as controlled burns. In addition, the need for fire services has increased substantially due to the drought conditions that have plagued South Dakota for the last couple of years. A new brush truck will alleviate additional strain on the fire crew, reduce response time, and utilize the latest technology to provide the highest quality of fire protection services for the district.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for USDA Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill increased the budget for the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
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 (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
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.