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Rural Development: Key Priorities

Rural Development Priorities

USDA Rural Development is incorporating key Biden-Harris Administration priorities into program scoring and associated funding announcements beginning with the fiscal year (FY) 2024 funding announcements. Many USDA Rural Development grant and technical assistance programs have the potential to support rural communities’ economic development effort and maintain and improve a healthy rural population by leveraging funding assistance to key Administration priorities.

These priorities build upon RD’s continuing commitment to serving traditionally underserved and economically challenged rural areas, such as Persistent Poverty Counties. Many RD programs will have a funding set-aside for areas of persistent poverty. These programs will be identified on the Priority Points Program Chart.

USDA Rural Development has identified three key priorities that will provide a pathway to facilitate economic growth for all rural Americans and is encouraging Applicants to consider projects that will advance the following three key priorities.

Addressing Climate Change and Environmental Justice

Reducing climate pollution and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities.

Advancing Racial Justice, Place-Based Equity, and Opportunity

Ensuring all rural residents have equitable access to RD programs and benefits from RD funded projects.

Creating More and Better Market Opportunities

Assisting rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and through improved infrastructure.

We will be incorporating these priorities into the work we do across the Agency and with our partners to incentivize strategic engagement and investment.

What are Priority Points?

Priority Points, also referred to as discretionary points, are additional points added to an established scoring criterion that USDA Rural Development uses to help determine which projects qualify for funding. Awarding extra points (i.e., priority points) raises a project’s score, which in turn improves the chances of a project being scored high enough to warrant a funding award. The flexibility related to these kinds of points varies, depending on regulations language.

How do I know what applications will have these priority points?

Priority points will be awarded in key RD programs to projects that support these priorities. These priority points will be incorporated into funding announcements and published in the Federal Register. For the list of programs that include priority points download the Priority Points Program Chart.

Check to see if you qualify?

Please use appropriate funding fiscal year to determine if your project qualifies for priority points. Program funding announced from October 2022 thru September 2023 will use the FY 2023 button, and program funding announced from October 2023 thru September 2024 will use the FY 2024 button. 

If you have questions about determining qualification for priority points, please email USDA.RD.DATA@usda.gov