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USDA invests in e-Connectivity to restore rural prosperity

HUGO, Colo. – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing in e-connectivity which will provide virtual access to job training, educational, and health care opportunities for rural communities.

“Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in creating rural prosperity,” Hazlett said. “Connecting rural Americans to quality education and health care services is an innovative and important tool in our efforts to facilitate economic growth, job creation and quality of life in rural America.”

USDA is awarding 72 grants totaling $23.6 million through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. The program invests in equipment that uses broadband to help rural communities connect to educational and health care services. These vital services are part of the foundation of a high quality of life and enable communities to overcome the effects of remoteness and low population density by connecting them to the rest of the world through high-speed internet.

The grants are supporting projects based in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Several recipients will use the grants to help address two of the nation’s most urgent needs: opioid abuse treatment and mental health counseling. USDA recognizes that modernizing healthcare access for such recovery resources is vital to addressing rural prosperity.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. As Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue was selected to serve as chairman of the Task Force, which includes more than 22 federal agencies as well as local leaders, executive departments, and offices. Over the course of six months, Secretary Perdue traveled to 30 states to listen to the voice of rural America and gather recommendations from citizens, farmers, and business leaders throughout the country. He held countless meetings with partner Federal agencies, and consulted with industry experts.

In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.

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