USDA announces funding for projects benefiting rural America
The USDA has announced more than $390 million in funding to help rural communities foster long-term economic growth. The Rural Partners Network was launched in April 2022 and expanded in November 2022 and has dedicated staff in 10 states and Puerto Rico.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Rural Partners Network works to reverse decades of persistent poverty. “We are working in those communities with nearly 800 partners in a collaborative effort to try to rebuild and restart the economies in these communities,” he says.
Kentucky will receive a $10 million grant to help increase meat and poultry processing capacity in the state. The money will be used to capitalize a revolving loan fund that will finance start-up, expansion, and ongoing operations of meat processors, helping to make the industry more resilient, diverse, and secure. It’s expected to create 60 new jobs. Kentucky also received a $1 million grant to help construct a rural medical clinic in Pineville (Bell County).
During a call with reporters on Monday, Vilsack said these investments will provide assistance to communities that serve up to 2 million people.
Caitlin Cain, with the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) says rural areas often lack what is needed to take advantage of federal resources and programs and the RPN works to simplify the process. “It serves as a bridge providing capacity and connection to communities that would otherwise miss out on federal investment opportunity,” she says. “RPN investments essentially help to foster the development and coordination of rural ecosystems, to directly provide a solution to local challenges.”
More than $35 million in grants and $358 million in loans were announced Monday supporting 52 projects in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico. Some projects also will benefit people outside RPN communities in Alabama, Florida, and Texas.