USDA Announces Communications Projects to Create Jobs, Promote Education

TEMPLE, October 20, 2012 – Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced funding to expand access to broadband and telecommunications services in rural America.

"USDA and the Obama administration continue to work to ensure that rural residents have access to expanded educational, health care, business and social opportunities through robust broadband and telecommunication services, ” Tonsager said. “These funds will help modernize communications service and delivery for rural businesses and residential customers.”  

Tonsager noted that in the recently completed fiscal year, USDA Rural Development has funded over $170 million in rural telecommunications projects nationwide to expand rural access to educational, health care, business and social services.

USDA Rural Development is funding 24 projects through several loan and grant programs administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS);  Broadband, Telecommunications loans, the Community Connect grant program, and the Public Television Digital Transition.

“USDA Rural Development is pleased to offer this funding to Mid-Plains Rural Telephone Coop,” said Paco Valentin, Texas State Director.  “This essential funding will help our rural communities keep pace with changing technology, and will provide access to modern communications systems that larger communities already have in place.”

In Texas, Mid-Plains Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc., is one of 24 recipients to receive funding through this announcement.  Mid-Plains Rural Telephone Cooperative will receive $2,590,000 to be used to convert the outdated network in select areas of the Cleta and Umbarger exchanges to a fiber-based passive optical network with GigaBit Ethernet technology.
For other examples of USDA investments in rural communities, please visit Rural Development’s new interactive web map at The map features program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009-2011.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $174 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.


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