By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Oct. 20 – Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager told reporters Wednesday that rural leaders deserve credit for the $40.7 billion in USDA stimulus funding going to rural areas.

Tonsager pointed out that Recovery Act funds allocated by USDA including $21.7 billion for Rural Development programs and another $19.5 billion for various conservation, food and nutrition program are already having a major impact. He said Rural Development's rural housing, infrastructure and Internet grants and loans will create or save an anticipated 300,000 jobs by funding projects in almost 3,000 counties. He noted that along with hospitals, libraries, water and sewer systems, and other facilities, the new funding has helped 93,000 families buy new homes, financed some 2,000 rural businesses, and will provide an estimated 7 million people with improved broadband Internet access. He said these results are thanks to “the citizens of rural America who took the time out of their lives to help stimulate our economy, to develop projects and ventures in rural America, to look to the future of their communities.”

USDA Sec. Vilsack and Mike Dale activate a new rural wastewater treatment plant. 

Tonsager said getting the funding was a “very competitive process.” He said the rural citizens who got funding “went the extra mile, they found the match money that was needed in some cases, they found the organizational skills, they found the financial institutions that were willing to work with them. These are people who focused on the future of their communities, who gave of their time and energy and their leadership to take a step forward in spite of the recession, in spite of uncertainty, in spite of challenges. These people believe in their communities and they deserve the opportunity to get the resources necessary to move their communities forward.”

Tonsager said that even with the $40.7 billion in new stimulus funding, there's a large backlog of community facility projects seeking funding. He says this backlog “speaks to the needs that exist in rural America.”

For Stewart Doan's audio report on the new rural funding, go to:

For more details on the $40.7 billion going out to rural communities in Recovery Act programs, go to:

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