The Biden administration is adding four more states and Puerto Rico to a program that offers more focused assistance to the needs of rural communities.

The Rural Partners Network, launched in April in five states, assigns federal employees to specific parts of the involved states, territories and tribal areas to offer technical assistance in those areas.

In a recent trip to North Carolina, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said that state as well as Alaska, Nevada, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico are joining the original slate of states: Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and some tribal areas in Arizona.

“Rural people make up America’s spirit and character and provide the everyday essentials our country depends on,” Vilsack said in a statement. We know that when rural people thrive, America thrives. By expanding the Rural Partners Network, we can help these important but often overlooked communities receive their fair share of government resources to keep rural people and economies prepared for the future.”

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The federal staffers assigned to communities through the program will live in those communities, an arrangement USDA hopes will lead to more partnerships with local leaders.

In addition to USDA, RPN also includes efforts from 20 other federal entities, including the White House, the departments of Treasury, Interior and Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency and more.  

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