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USDA Continues to Disperse Funding to Underserved Communities


In a November 9th release, USDA announced that $1.2 billion will be provided in loans and grants to rural cooperatives in 36 states and Puerto Rico.  The announcement was made by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack during a roundtable with rural community and business leaders held in Colorado.  The $1.2 billion is intended to support 112 projects in diverse communities in 36 states.


In commenting on the grants, Vilsack stated, “The cooperative business model has been integral to rural advancement and the American economy and today accounts for more than two million jobs across the country.  The investments we are announcing today will ensure that cooperatives continue the important work of serving the unique needs of their communities.”


USDA provided examples of grants including a $10 million loan guarantee to build a hospital in Mohave County, AZ; a grant to Wayne-White County electric co-op to replace drainage water pumps to protect 9,000 acres of farmland from flooding and a grant to the Mississippi Minority Farmers Alliance to assist farmers to develop business plans among six counties.


The USDA under the present Administration regards loans and grants as “investments”.  In the business sense, this is an inappropriate definition since investment implies a tangible, financial return.


It is obviously too much to expect the USDA to account for the grants and loans in years to come quantifying benefits in terms of jobs created or increased productivity.  To equate giveaways with “investment” is a misnomer and distortion of reality.