On Thursday, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Department is awarding $502 million in loans and grants to provide high-speed internet access in 20 states.  The funding will be available for residents and businesses in rural America.  Vilsack said during last week's announcement improving high-speed broadband access will open up many opportunities to improve life in rural America.


“The opportunity for families, businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities to have the latest and best technology to be able to access distance learning or telemedicine, business opportunities, and the needs of families with this very important 21st-century technology. Many parts of the country today still have limited internet access in terms of upload and download speeds that simply don't allow for multiple uses at home, don't accommodate distance learning, telemedicine, don't allow businesses to expand market opportunities, and would not allow farmers the opportunity for precision agriculture.”


USDA is making the investments through the 3rd funding round of the ReConnect Program, and Vilsack says a 4th round of funding will soon be available.


“These resources are divided between loans and grants, with roughly $141 million in loans and $360 million or so in grants. We anticipate and expect additional announcements in the very near future to add to that total. Just as a reminder, we initially had $1.15 billion available under round three of the ReConnect Program. We expect to announce the balance of that program very soon. We'd also like to remind folks of the fact that the application process for Round Four under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is still open and will remain so until November 2.”


The state of Oregon was awarded over $10 million to connect the eastside of the state to high speed internet.


If you have a story idea for the PNW Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail glenn.vaagen@townsquaremedia.com 

More From PNW Ag Network