WASHINGTON -- Agriculture Secretary Vilsack today announced loans to help finance the construction of broadband networks in rural Iowa, Minnesota, Oregon and South Dakota. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
'Rural Americans need full access high-speed telecommunications services,' Vilsack said. 'Broadband allows rural communities to tap into critical health care and social services systems. It also helps even the playing field in education, and gives small-town businesses a chance to compete globally. As part of the Obama Administration's goal to improve infrastructure, we will continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas.'
Today's funding announcement will provide almost $40 million from USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications capability in the three recipients' service areas. USDA's Telecommunications Loan Program finances infrastructure that enables access to a seamless, nationwide telecommunications network.
The following recipients have been selected to receive telecommunications loan financing. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan agreements.
- Keystone-Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company will receive a $7.6 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network to help meet the current and future data needs of its customers in Benton and Tama counties.
- Colton Telephone Company will receive a $7.3 million loan to complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.
South Dakota and Minnesota
- Interstate Telecommunications Company, Inc. will receive a $24.9 million loan to upgrade its plant and complete an FTTP network to provide enhanced broadband services for its customers.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has funded 557 projects in 48 states through $6.1 billion in telecommunications loan financing. Secretary Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy - and he said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
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.
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