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USDA to make up to $1.15 billion available to help people living in rural communities access high-speed internet

GENESEO, Ill. – Iowa has a big budget surplus but also the second-slowest internet speed in the country, and a new federal program could help the lagging state catch up with the rest of the country.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a significant expansion of access to high-speed internet, health care and educational services for millions of rural Americans nationwide. Today’s announcement continues to move forward President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda by prioritizing economic growth in rural America and investing in the backbone of our country – the middle class.

“For too long, the ‘digital divide’ has left too many people living in rural communities behind: unable to compete in the global economy and unable to access the services and resources that all Americans need,” Vilsack said. “As we build back better than we were before, the actions I am announcing today will go a long way toward ensuring that people who live or work in rural areas are able to tap into the benefits of broadband, including access to specialized health care, educational opportunities and the global marketplace. Rural people, businesses and communities must have affordable, reliable, high-speed internet so they can fully participate in modern society and the modern economy.”

Secretary Vilsack spoke about USDA’s commitment to helping rural Americans get improved access to broadband and health care during a visit to the newly renovated emergency department at Hammond Henry Hospital. The project was financed in part by a USDA loan.

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