USDA announces $550 million to deploy high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in rural U.S.

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STANTON, Iowa (KFOR) – More than half of a billion dollars in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Reconnect Pilot Program funding will be available in 2020 to develop high-speed broadband internet infrastructure in rural parts of the United States.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Thursday that a second round of $550 million has been made available after being appropriated by Congress.

Perdue announced the new funding alongside Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds while congratulating the Farmers Mutual Telephone Company of Stanton, Iowa, for receiving $6.4 million in first-round Reconnect Pilot Program funding to connect 477 households, 35 farms and 21 businesses in Montgomery and Page counties.

“This second round of ReConnect funding will help USDA be an even stronger partner in closing the digital divide in America’s rural communities,” Perdue said. “Our core mission at USDA is to increase rural prosperity through boosting economic opportunity in rural America. We know that rural communities need robust, modern infrastructure to thrive, and that includes having access to broadband e-Connectivity. Under the leadership of President Trump and in cooperation with Congressional appropriators, USDA is proud to partner with rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

USDA will make the following available for second-round funding:

  • Up to $200 million for grants.
  • Up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations.
  • Up to $200 million for low-interest loans.

The window to apply for funding opens Jan. 31, 2020.

“Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020,” the news release states.

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