Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for two rural telecommunications companies that will expand broadband service in rural Nebraska and Montana. The United States 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.
"These loans will provide the necessary telecommunications services essential for rural economic development," Vilsack said. "Broadband offers rural communities greater access to educational, health care, business and social services and opens the door to increased global competition. As part of the Obama Administration's goal to improve infrastructure, we continue to fund projects that expand broadband service in rural areas."
Today's funding announcement will provide more than $26 million from USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency, to install fiber networks to improve telecommunications services in these areas.
InterBel Telephone Cooperative, Inc., in Montana, will receive a $20.8 million loan to complete a Fiber-to-the-Premises network to help meet future growth requirements. In Nebraska, Hartington Telecommunications Co., Inc., will use a $5.2 million loan to replace copper with Fiber-to-the-Home technology. USDA funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.
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. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration -- the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.