How will USDA’s million-dollar investment help rural, underserved communities?

The Biden Administration announced a major investment in rural America, part of their Rural Partners Network.

RFD-TV’s Tammi Arender spoke with Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to learn more:

This investment of $262 million is supposed to improve access to jobs, health care, and infrastructure for those in underserved communities.

“This is an exciting opportunity for an all-governed approach in areas that have been struggling with persistent poverty for an extended period of time. The domestic-oriented department of government have come together as a team, if you will, and looking at ways in which we might be able to provide assistance and help.

“In the state of Arizona, we’re excited about the fact that a portion of the $262 million that’s being announced today in 68 projects – significant projects in the state of Arizona – an opportunity for us to invest and to provide grants and loans, to expand opportunities to healthcare, to work on infrastructure, to make sure that we’re working with community facilities.

“So, this is an opportunity for job creation, it’s an opportunity for us to improve the quality of life, and to send a strong message that we really do care about these communities that have for far too long have been left out, if you will, in terms of economic opportunity,” said Sec. Vilsack

When folks hear the term ‘underserved,’ how do we know what makes them an underserved community?

“We start with the fact that they experience persistent poverty for an extended period of time. Most of the 10 states that have been identified in the 36 networks are areas where we’ve seen poverty rates that might exceed 20 percent for literally decades. These are places where it’s just been really difficult for community leaders to know where to start, to know where to go to for help.

“That’s why what we’ve done with the Rural Partners Network is we’ve placed people on the ground. These are individuals that will live in these areas, in these networks. They’ll work collaboratively with community leaders in these networks and then communicate the needs of the community to each department of the federal government that can be of help,” Sec. Vilsack said.

The Rural Partner Network is the on-the-ground technical assistance for those living in those communities that are underserved who are dealing with those big, substantial resource gaps.

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