Funding will increase access to health care, education and public safety
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United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh announced this week that the USDA is investing $1 billion to build and improve critical community facilities in 48 states, Puerto Rico and Guam. The aim of the funding is to increase access to health care, education and public safety while spurring community development and building sound infrastructure for people living in rural communities.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has made investing in infrastructure improvements a top priority,” Bronaugh said. “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital to all communities, such as health care facilities, schools, libraries, and first responder vehicles and equipment. When we invest in essential services in rural America, we build opportunity and prosperity for the people who call rural communities home.”

Bronaugh highlighted 731 projects that the USDA is making in five programs that will fund essential community services to help rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.

The projects will finance emergency response vehicles and equipment; build or improve hospitals and clinics and help fund other essential community facilities. Bronaugh underscored the critical role that Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, Vice Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Appropriations, had in fighting for additional funding for the Community Facilities Direct Loans, which made many of these investments in critical rural infrastructure possible.

In Iowa, for example, the city of Sabula is receiving a $225,000 Community Facilities Disaster Grant to purchase a fire tanker/pumper truck. The city’s current pumper truck is nearly 20 years old, beyond its useful life and has expired equipment. This project will help the city purchase a new truck and new equipment to improve fire protection services for the city’s 576 residents.

More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

Fonterra says the outlook for dairy is positive, and the co-operative has released an upbeat forecast for its full-year profit.

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