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USDA State Directors Join Forum to Discuss Program Services, Community Needs with Local Leaders, Stakeholders

Isaac Navarrete
Release Date

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Mar. 13, 2024) – Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Directors Charlene Fernandez (Arizona), Maria Gallegos Herrera (California), Patricia Dominguez (New Mexico), and Maximiliano Trujillo (Puerto Rico) attended the Rural Partner Network (RPN) 2024 Community Forum in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to exchange with local leaders on the services and programs that USDA Rural Development can provide. Additionally, State Directors had the opportunity to feature recent awards and success stories, explaining the significant impact of RPN on building connections with rural and Tribal communities.

“Arizona's RPN liaisons have been critical in identifying needs of our rural and Tribal communities. We've been able to provide services and build relationships with communities in need, including the Cocopah Tohono O'odham, and San Carlos Apache Tribes” says Arizona State Director Charlene Fernandez. “It's important for us to see what needs to get done and how Rural Development can help. This is the mission of Biden-Harris Administration: to meet customers where they are.”

California State Director Maria Gallegos Herrera said, “In California, we are advancing President Biden’s commitment to equity by increasing engagement in some of the state’s most underserved rural and Tribal communities. To date, we have engaged more than 250 rural and Tribal Community leaders, service providers, and elected officials, and we have provided funding for projects that support essential services and boost the economy in Cutler, Orosi, Monson, Sultana, Westmorland, and Holtville.”

New Mexico State Director Patricia Dominguez added, “In New Mexico our RPN liaisons have been instrumental in identifying specific needs with input from their community partners, such as childcare and water projects for rural underserved communities. We have now begun the process to see how we can provide or identify funding needed to complete these projects.” 

Puerto Rico State Director Maximiliano J Trujillo-Ortega said, "In Puerto Rico, the Biden-Harris administration has focused on helping rural communities recover from the disasters caused by Hurricanes Maria and Fiona by helping to restore community-managed water systems. Also, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, it has invested in rural areas using funds to help small businesses and farmers obtain renewable energy systems and energy-efficient equipment. This investment helps small businesses have power consistently and at lower costs."

The Biden-Harris Administration’s initiative, Rural Partners Network (RPN), has brought together a coalition of 24 federal agencies that offer programs and funding designed specifically for rural communities. RPN recognizes that community-based groups and nonprofits are the foundation and development of rural communities.

Under the leadership of 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/az

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