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USDA promises better rural internet for 31,000 residents

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Rural America knows all about bad cell service, bad internet connection, and questionable promises by government agencies. However, the Biden-Harris Administration said it is setting aside $401 million specifically for high-speed rural internet access. Time will tell how successful applicants are in securing better services through the programs. If not, producers will keep doing what they’ve always done — make things work. 

»Related: Study reveals effects of limited rural broadband for farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the department plans to invest in internet access for 31,000 rural residents and businesses in 11 states. The announcement is part of a larger group of investments called the ReConnect Program, awarded through the USDA’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program. 

“Connectivity is critical to economic success in rural America,” Vilsack said. “The internet is vital to our growth and continues to act as a catalyst for our prosperity. From the farm to the school, from households to international markets, connectivity drives positive change in our communities. The investments I am announcing today will help 31,000 people and businesses in large and diverse regions across the country access new and critical opportunities.”

broadband
Image by Amy Johansson, Shutterstock

These high-speed internet investments will be focused on Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, and Texas. Several awards will help rural people and businesses on Tribal lands and those in socially vulnerable communities.

»Related: Cattlemen say the need for rural broadband is real

To be eligible for ReConnect Program funding, an applicant must serve an area where high-speed internet service speeds are lower than 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 20 Mbps for uploads. The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing high-speed internet service at speeds of at least 100 Mbps (download and upload) to every location in its proposed service area. 

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit USDA’s Rural Development Site or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office

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